Girls from Madagascar


This photograph of a scene in Madagascar is from the Frank and Frances Carpenter Collection at the Library of Congress. Frank G. Carpenter (1855–1924) was an American writer of books on travel and world geography, whose works helped to popularize cultural anthropology and geography in the United States in the early years of the 20th century. Consisting of photographs taken and gathered by Carpenter and his daughter Frances (1890–1972) to illustrate his writings, the collection includes an estimated 16,800 photographs and 7,000 glass and film negatives. In Carpenter’s New Geographical Reader: Australia, the Philippines, and Other Islands of the Sea (1927), Carpenter observed: “The women wear high-waisted gowns of bright-colored calicoes, which make them look tall. How their hair shines! They wear no hats, and their hair is put in little braids that stand out all over their heads, or are fastened together with string. They grease their hair with coconut oil, the rancid odor of which is borne to our nostrils.”

Last updated: February 12, 2016