University of Kansas showcases historic black photography online

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Leon K. Hughes and his wife Rose (Leon K. Hughes Photograph Collection/University of Kansas)

Leon K. Hughes and his wife Rose (Leon K. Hughes Photograph Collection/University of Kansas)

The University of Kansas is now making a historic collection of images showcasing African-American life available online.

The collection, compiled from the work of African-American photographer Leon K. Hughes, is called “African American Life in Wichita, Kansas” and features photos of the city’s black community life from the late 1940s to the 1970s.

According to the KU website, Hughes was a self-taught photographer. He and his wife, Rose, began a home-based photography business in 1946 for which he captured photos of the community for the next three decades. In 2009, his wife gifted the collection of more than 2,700 images to the university.

The collection’s archivist, Deborah Dandridge, said the photos showing weddings, graduations and church and school gatherings coincide with the arrival of thousands of African-American newcomers from nearby states and the South to the city.

“These photographs suggest how African-Americans, for centuries, refused to allow the nation’s color line deny them experiences of love, faith, dignity and grace,” Dandrige added.

The entire Leon K. Hughes Collection can be viewed here.

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