Black Photographers 1840 – 1940

About the Exhibition

This exhibition celebrates the contributions that black photographers have made to the history of the medium, a role that has yet to be fully documented.  While not an exhaustive look at the achievements of black photographers, the exhibition is evidence that blacks were involved in the pioneering and formative years of photography.

Organized and circulated by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of the New York Public Library, and curated by Deborah Willis, Black Photographers, includes eighty-three images representing every aspect of rural and urban life in America– agriculture, education, religion, architecture, and politics.  Included also are examples of genres found in fine art photography such as landscape and allegorical portraiture.

The photographs demonstrate a wide spectrum of styles and craftsmanship.  They document the growth of this country, especially the development of black communities. 

A selected list of the twenty-one artists represented in the exhibition includes James Latimer Allen (1907-1977), James Conway Farley (1854-1910), Daniel Freeman (b. 1868), the Goodridge Brothers (active 1850’s-18880’s), Gordon Parks (b. 1912), P.H. Polk (b. 1898), Richard Samuel Robert (1881-1936), and James Van Der Zee (1886-1983).