The John A. and Caroline Williams Archive contains images of art and architecture from the Islamic world taken by John Alden Williams and Caroline Williams over a period of decades beginning in the 1960s. John Alden Williams was a professor of Islamic civilization and served a number of institutions, including the American University of Cairo, the University of Texas at Austin, and William and Mary College. Caroline Williams is an independent scholar of Islamic art and architecture who has taught courses at universities in Egypt and the United States, and has published research on Islamic art and architecture with a focus on Islamic and modern Cairo. John and Caroline met in Cairo and were married in 1967.
The archive includes the Williams' basic teaching collection, which covers the breadth of Islamic art and architecture, from the Iberian Peninsula to the Indian Subcontinent. Cairo and the surrounding region are covered in greater depth, from the Pharaonic period up until modern times. This teaching collection is augmented by material from several family trips outside the Islamic world, and a lengthy trip made by Caroline in 1962 through East Asia, Southeast Asia, India, the Fertile Crescent, and the Mediterranean.
The Williams' donated a selection of approximately 600 images to MIT which became one of the earliest groups of material to be featured in the Archnet Digital Library. In 2017 and 2018, Caroline Williams donated approximately 18,500 and 3,000 images respectively for a total of 21,517 slides, to the Aga Khan Documentation Center at MIT (AKDC@MIT), representing the bulk of their collection. These images are mostly preserved as 35 mm slides and are housed in their original labeled slide cabinets or in portable metal slide boxes.
Selections from the collection are included here. The entire John A. and Caroline Williams archive is open and available to students, faculty, researchers, and scholars at the Aga Khan Documentation Center in person, and a general inventory of the collection is available upon request. For more information, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elisabeth Baldwin, Collections Archivist
Matt Saba, Visual Resources Librarian
AKDC at MIT