01/31/2019 - 00:00

I'm a freelance, London-based journalist and I'm looking for information regarding my British-born grandfather, photographer Joseph Lazarus - specifically the period he lived in South Africa, as well as his professional life in what was Nyasaland. I'm considering writing a book about him and at the end of the year will be travelling to Malawi, as well as to Barberton and Durban, to undertake some research.

Joseph Lazarus (born Joseph Schnitke) was a photographer, who moved from Sunderland to Barberton, in South Africa, with his parents and siblings in the 1880s. He and his brother - and business partner - Maurice, then went to Lourenço Marques (modern day Maputo) between 1898/9 (approx) - 1908, where they established one of the largest photographic studios in the capital. Their trade name was J&M Lazarus. They also had a studio in Beira. 

They produced work of documentary significance such as the building of the Transvaal railway and covered the 1907 official visit of Luis Filipe de Bragança, Prince Royal of Portugal, to the Portuguese colonies in Africa - the first royal to go there. Following this, they were invited to open a studio in Lisbon where they became photographers for the Court and later the Republic. Their work is of interest to academics and images are in archival institutions worldwide including Cambridge University, the Smithsonian, Yale and Stanford, the British Library as well as museums and collections in Portugal and Africa.

When I visited Mozambique in 2016, I learnt then that the brothers also had a studio in Blantyre, Malawi. I believe this was established while they were living in Lourenço Marques but that could be inaccurate. 

Some other information about the family which might be helpful...

Joseph and Maurice's father, Benjamin Lazarus, was murdered at Impati Hill, near Dundee. He is buried, as is his wife, Emilie, in the Jewish cemetery in Dundee. Two of Joseph and Maurice's brothers, Charles and Samuel, were also in business together and known as, “Lazarus Brothers.”  They undertook a variety of activities supporting the Natal collieries including:

  • Running the mine stores known as Mine Stores (Natal) Limited.  These stores provided goods for the mine workers
  • Running hotels such as  South African Collieries Hotel, Navigation Hotel and St Georges Hotel, all in or near Dundee; and at “Burnside” near the working of the Dundee Coal Company’s mine
  • Sale of “Native Beer” at various licensed premises such as as “Lincoln” at New Shaft, Natal Navigation Collieries, and also at Burnside
  • Sale of Malt at various establishments.

Before my trip, I'm keen to find out details about my grandfather such as the address of J&M Lazarus's studio in Blantyre - in fact any record or information at all concerning their time there. I want to establish where the Lazarus family - in particular Joseph and Maurice - lived in Barberton. I'm also curious to find out how, when and where Joseph became a photographer. He may have been an apprentice in a studio in Barberton, for example.

I would be grateful for any assistance.

Anne Joseph - contact@annejoseph.co.uk

http://www.annejoseph.co.uk/  | Twitter: @1annejoseph | + 44 (0)780 893 8668

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 17:21

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