Gaden, Henri

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Gaden, Henri Gender: M
Jules Nicolas Henri Gaden
born on 24 January 1867 at 11:00 (= 11:00 AM )
Place Bordeaux, France, 44n50, 0w34
Timezone LMT m0w34 (is local mean time)
Data source
Rodden Rating B
Collector: Scholfield
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_aqucol.18.gif 04°03' s_mo.18.gif s_vircol.18.gif 27°47 Asc.s_taucol.18.gif 03°27'


French soldier, colonial administrator, ethnologist and photographer.

Coming from a family of Bordeaux merchants of German origin, he graduated from the military school of Saint-Cyr in 1890 and was assigned, at his request, to colonial Sudan (present-day Mali) where he was appointed deputy resident of Bandiagara, among the Dogons. He participated in the capture of Samory Toure, founder of the Wassoulou empire and the main resistance to French colonization in West Africa in 1898.

A connoisseur of the Peule language, he was assigned in 1900 to Zinder in Niger, then to Chad where he was acting governor. He left the army in 1911 to enter the colonial administration and then returned to service during the First World War where he fought in Morocco under the orders of Lyautey. He was wounded in 1915 and demobilized and returned to Mauritania, where he became governor in 1919 and until his retirement in 1926.

When he retired, Henri Gaden chose not to return to France and moved to Saint-Louis, Senegal. There, he devoted himself to ethnographic and philological works on Arabic and Fulani languages. He worked with local collaborators, not wishing to destroy the local social structures, but rather to understand them. During the forty years of his life in Africa, he took many photographs that are recognized as of great ethnographic and artistic quality. His photographic collection is kept in the archives of the City of Bordeaux. He died on 12 December 1939, aged 72, in Saint-Louis.

Link to Wikipedia biography (French)


Source Notes

Sy Scholfield quotes from Nearly Native, Barely Civilized: Henri Gaden’s Journey through Colonial French West Africa (1894-1939) by Roy Dilley (BRILL, 2014), p. 15: "Jules Nicolas Henri Gaden was born at 11 o'clock on the morning of 24th January 1867 in Bordeaux to an haute bourgeois family that revolved in the best social circles of the city."


  • Vocation : Art : Photography
  • Vocation : Humanities+Social Sciences : Ethnologist
  • Vocation : Humanities+Social Sciences : Linguist (Philologist)
  • Vocation : Military : Military service
  • Vocation : Politics : Heads of state (Colonial administrator)