The K.A.C. Creswell Photographs of Islamic Architecture digital collection currently contains over 300 oversized photographs collected by K.A.C. Creswell of Islamic architecture in Egypt. Photographs were collected by Creswell from notable photographers in Cairo such as Antonio Beato, and G. Legekian. Notable buildings in the collection include the Mosque of Muhammed Ali, the Al-Azhar mosque, and the Mosque of Ibn Tulun as well as domestic architecture.
Creswell is considered to be the founder of the study of Islamic Architecture. Born in London on September 13, 1879, Creswell first visited the Middle East when he was stationed in Egypt following the outbreak of World War I. In 1919 he was appointed Inspector of Monuments in Palestine in the Royal Flying Corps. In this capacity, Creswell began surveying and photographing Islamic monuments in unprecedented detail. His documentation ranged from the Euphrates to Egypt. King Fuʼād I of Egypt hired Creswell in 1920 to pen History of the Muslim Architecture of Egypt, which resulted in a two volumes. Additionally, he authored another two volume work entitled, Early Muslim Architecture. In 1931, Fuʼād I appointed Creswell a lecturer at Cairo University and in Fuʼād, and in 1956 he was appointed a Distinguished Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture at the American University in Cairo.
The K.A.C. Creswell Papers and Photograph Collection of Islamic Architecture was acquired by the American University in Cairo in 1956, when the Rare Books and Special Collections Library took ownership of the personal libray of Creswell. Beginning in 1957, the American University in Cairo housed Creswell's photograph collection and portions of his personal papers, however, Creswell maintained property rights over his collection. Upon Creswell's death in 1974, ownership of his personal library was formally transferred to the American University in Cairo, excepting photographic negatives.