Photographs of Jerusalem, 1903

Photographs of Jerusalem, 1903
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Photographs of Jerusalem, 1903

Author Thomas R. Wells Author Richard N. Holzapfel

In 1903, just before the dramatic changes of the last century engulfed Palestine, Salt Lake City photographer Charles Ellis Johnson (1857-1926) found himself in Jerusalem. While not the first Latter-day Saint to visit the Old City of Jerusalem, Johnson was the earliest Mormon professional photographer to capture views of the city and its inhabitants and thus freeze a unique, peaceful moment in time.

Because of religious prohibitions against making graven images, there were few Jewish or Muslim photographers in the country when Johnson visited the region. He was therefore among a select group of Europeans and North Americans to have preserved on paper and glass the people and places in the Holy Land before the Ottoman Empire lost its hold on Jerusalem in 1917.

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