The Father Carney Gavin legacy collection of Holy Land photographs documents early photography of Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia in the 1860s and 1870s, as well as early twentieth century archaeological excavations and travel in Iraq, Greece, Egypt, and Palestine. Included are images by M. J. Diness, the Bonfils family, Francis Frith, Abdullah frères, G. Lékégian, J. P. Sébah, and Zangaki. Also present are stereoscopic views of Jerusalem and Palestine produced by Underwood & Underwood in circa 1900. The collection was assembled by Father Carney Gavin, primarily through gifts of photograph collections and single items to the Archives of Historical Documentation, in the 1990s and 2000s. It contains photographic prints, photograph albums, glass lantern slides, cartes-de-visite, stereographs, panoramas, writings and exhibition files, printed material, and electronic and audiovisual media.
The bulk of the records consists of six collections: portfolios of albumen prints of street scenes and buildings of Cairo assembled by Arthur Rhoné, author of an early French guidebook for Egypt; modern platinum and silver gelatin prints of Jerusalem, created by photographer John Barnier in the early 1990s from original collodion wet plate negatives of Diness; photograph albums and prints of Egypt, Syria, and Palestine, collected by physician Ralph C. Marcove; cartes-de-visite owned by Catherine C. Haynes, a teacher at Robert College in Istanbul in the 1870s; albumen prints of Mecca and Medina by Muḥammad Ṣādiq Bey, an Egyptian army engineer; and photograph albums and prints assembled by Mathilde Pfeiffer, wife of archaeologist Robert Pfeiffer, showing Harvard University-Baghdad School excavations in Kirkuk, Iraq, and the couple's travels in Egypt, Palestine, and Greece in the 1920s. The Pfeiffer collection also contains film reels of the Holy Land, Baalbek, and Kirkuk, and Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Also included are Ermete Pierotti's Jerusalem explored, two portfolios containing photographs of Mecca and Medina by al-Sayyid 'Abd al-Ghaffār, glass lantern slides depicting the Middle East, the Americas, and Europe, and professional papers of Carney Gavin, as well as film of the Kirkuk excavation, shot by Fogg Art Museum archaeologist Richard F. S. Starr in 1929, and film of travel to Egypt and Palestine in the 1920s.