Digital Schomburg Images of 19th Century African Americans
Table of Contents
Source Materials
Mary Yearwood, Curator
Photographs and Prints Division

The Photographs and Prints Division of the Schomburg Center is devoted to collecting and preserving images documenting the life and history of peoples of African descent worldwide as well as the work of photographers of African descent. The collection of over 500,000 prints, original negatives and transparencies ranges from eighteenth century graphics to modern photographic prints encompassing portraiture, documentary photography, photojournalism and fine-art photography. The collection also includes examples of all the major nineteenth century photographic processes and presentation formats.

The images selected for presentation in this database are drawn primarily from 21 discreet collections at the Schomburg Center: sixteen personal, organizational and photographers' collections, many of which are complemented by substantial bodies of letters, diaries, minutes and other textual documents; four collections representing examples of the various presentation formats common to nineteenth century portrait and genre photography; and a collection of wood engravings from the illustrated U.S. press of the nineteenth century.

Included are items drawn from collections of family photographs, some spanning several generations, the records of a professional woman's school, work by two photographers who documented the curriculum and activities of early African-American institutions of higher learning, and the personal collections of various individuals.

The selections presented here do not include the total range of nineteenth century photographic processes, formats, and subject matter included in the holdings of the Photographs and Prints Division. The division's nineteenth century holdings are also not limited to the United States. Studio portraits, ethnographic studies, landscapes and cityscapes and genre photographs documenting life and customs in various parts of the African continent, the Caribbean and Central and South America are also included among the Division's holdings. It is hoped that in the not too distant future, selected items from these holdings will also be made available through the Digital Schomburg initiative.

©1999 The New York Public Library
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