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Photographs of prominent African Americans

 Collection
Call Number: JWJ MSS 76

Scope and Contents

Miscellaneous groups of photographs drawn from various collections in the James Weldon Johnson Collection. The collection includes images of prominent African American writers, cultural leaders, and entertainers, as well as photographs by important African American photographers. The collection forms a visual record of artists, writers, actors, musicians, and politicians active in the United States from the 1920s through the 1960s.

Dates

  • 1875-1978

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Photographs of Prominent African Amercians is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Acquired from various sources beginning in 1941. Sources include Carl Van Vechten, Grace Nail Johnson, and Langston Hughes.

Arrangement

Organized into five series: I. Photographs of Blacks Collected Chiefly by James Weldon Johnson and Carl Van Vechten, 1893-1954. II. Photographs of Blacks, 1875-1978. III. Photographs of Blacks by Important Photographers, circa 1920-1950. IV. Photographs of Blacks in Art, 1941-1976. V. Kamoinge Workshop Portfolio No. 1, circa 1963.

Extent

7.55 Linear Feet (30 boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

http://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/beinecke.jwjphotos

Overview

Photographs drawn from various collections in the James Weldon Johnson Collection. The collection includes predominantly images of prominent African American writers, cultural leaders, and entertainers, as well as photographs by important African American photographers. A small number of images document people and places outside the United States. The collection forms a visual record of artists, writers, actors, musicians, and politicians active chiefly in the United States from the 1920s through the 1960s.

History of the Collection

The James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection in the Yale Collection of American Literature was founded in 1941 by Carl Van Vechten. It stands as a memorial to Dr. James Weldon Johnson and celebrates the accomplishments of African American writers and artists, with an emphasis on those of the Harlem Renaissance. Grace Nail Johnson contributed her husband's papers, leading the way for gifts of papers from Dr. W. E. B. DuBois, Walter White and Poppy Cannon White, Dorothy Peterson, Chester Himes, and Langston Hughes. The Collection also contains the papers of Richard Wright and Jean Toomer.

The library at one time maintained several photograph files within the JWJ Memorial Collection dedicated to images of and by African Americans. These files included photographs donated by Carl Van Vechten, Johnson's widow Grace Nail Johnson, and Langston Hughes, as well as photographs acquired from other sources. For many years, photographs that came to the library as part of manuscript collections were also removed from their original context and added to the files. This practice was reversed beginning in the 1990s; as manuscript collections were processed, photographs were repatriated whenever it was possible to determine their provenance, and when it was clear that they had not been given specifically for the separate photograph files. In 2012, what remained of five separately described runs of files classed as JWJ Zan5 were joined to form this collection.

Processing Information

This collection joins five groups of miscellaneous photographs that were cataloged separately prior to 2012, but collectively known, informally, as the "JWJ Photos" collection. In 2012 , the five groups of photographs were listed in this finding aid as five series and rehoused into standard archival containers. Because the library historically maintained these groups separately, they were not interfiled despite overlapping content and provenance. The title of each series was taken directly from the corresponding former catalog record for each group; the subseries within each series also reflect the existing arrangement and description of the images. File titles were transcribed from folders with minimal correction.

Formerly classed as JWJ Zan5 +1, JWJ Zan5 +2, JWJ Zan5 +3, JWJ Zan5 +4, JWJ Zan5 +5, and Za Objects. Series I-V in this collection reflect these original groupings, with the following exceptions:

Photographs collected by Langston Hughes once classed with JWJ Zan5 +2 have been returned to the Langston Hughes Papers (JWJ MSS 26). Photographs donated by Poppy Cannon White were removed from JWJ Zan5 +2 and returned to the Walter Francis White and Poppy Cannon Papers (JWJ MSS 38). Photographs collected by Chester Himes were removed from JWJ Zan5 +2 and incorporated into the Chester Himes Papers (JWJ MSS 42). Photographs by Carl Van Vechten once classed with the former JWJ Zan5 +3 have been returned to the Carl Van Vechten Papers (JWJ Van Vechten). Photographs by or collected by Richard Wright once classed with the former JWJ Zan5 +3 have been incorporated into the Richard Wright Papers (JWJ MSS 3).
Title
Guide to Photographs of Prominent African Americans
Author
by Beinecke Staff
Date
2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

Contact:
P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977

Location

121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours

Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.