Emory University has secured one of the largest photo libraries of black history ever assembled. The collection holds over 10,000 photographs of intimate moments of African-American life dating back to the late 19th century. The anthology contains photos of several notable black Americans, such as William Monroe Trotter, Marcus Garvey, and sculptor Selma Burke, but the uniqueness of this collection lies in the photos that capture rare moments in the lives of everyday black Americans.
A number of photographs in the collection were taken by African-American photographers themselves and range in subject matter from shots of cabaret life to pictures chronicling the civil rights movement. Emory University Provost Earl Lewis, who is also a professor of history and African-American studies, is very proud to have a collection of this magnitude at Emory.
“Its breadth is incredible, its depth is considerable, and its sheer beauty is breathtaking,” Lewis said. “Scholars from many disciplines will find this collection to be a treasure trove for peering behind the veil and seeing the inner worlds of life in America.”
Robert Langmuir, the Philadelphia antique book collector and black historian who compiled the collection, spent many years amassing photographs to pull together such a wide-ranging and comprehensive collection of black life representing the last two centuries.
In a statement on Emory University’s website on the more than 10,000 photos in the collection, Langmuir says: “Not every photo is a stellar, poignant image. A lot of them are family archives, or from family albums, people doing things, just living their everyday lives. That’s what I was interested in — looking at black culture through black people’s eyes.”
The collection can be viewed at Emory University’s Archives and Rare Book Library in Atlanta Georgia.
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