African American
Image Sources

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The South

Arkansas History Commission Photographs This site has a great many wonderful images, particularly of the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, but they do not display automatically. You have to click on "Details" and then on "A look inside: url" The Arkansas History Commission (AHC) holds visual materials for purposes of private study, research, and scholarship. Not all AHC images are in the public domain. The patron using AHC visuals (including digital images) does so with the agreement to having read its Copyright Notice and assumes all responsibility for any infringement of copyright held by others in the use of AHC visuals. The downloaded images are of very high quality. Even a zoomed in detail holds up fairly well.

Birmingham News Photographs of civil rights activity in that city have just been discovered and many of those images are now online, along with the story of how they were discovered. A wonderful new resource. According to the site " Photos may not be reproduced without prior written consent." Excellent download quality.

Cook Collection Photographs, "Through the Lens of Time" This is a wonderful collection of nearly 300 images of African Americans dating from the nineteenth and early twentieth century from the Cook Collection of Photographs at the Valentine Richmond History Center. The photos are by George S. Cook (1819-1902) and Huestes P. Cook (1868-1951) primarily of the Richmond and Central Virginia area. Fair use applies. Excellent download quality.

LOUISiana Digital Library This broad database includes documents and images. The collections gathered here include the Historic New Orleans Collection, Louisiana State Archives and the American Missionary Association collection at the Amistad Research Center. Excellent download quality.

Florida Photographic Collection (State Archives of Florida) There are over 100,000 photographs on the website, and many excellent images of African Americans included some less well known photographs of Mary McLeod Bethune and Bethune-Cookman College. All the images in the collection are in the public domain. Excellent download quality.

Library of Virginia Photographic Collections This site is not easy to use, but there are a great many images from local Virginia library collections here. The site is unclear on whether it follows Fair Use. Excellent download quality.

Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS) Image Gallery has the Scurlock Studio Collection. Addison Scurlock and his two sons were major African American photographers in Washington D.C., and the Archives Center at the Smithsonian has now didgitized over 2,000 of the photographs from that collection. They are an incredible resource and of excellent quality. Just click on Cross-Searching Center and type the name "Scurlock" into the search box. Each Smithsonian archive follows the fair use rule, "Fair use of copyrighted material includes the use of protected materials for non-commercial educational purposes, such as teaching, scholarship, research, criticism, commentary, and news reporting."

University of Virginia Special Collections Library has two wonderful collections online: The Holsinger Studio Collection is mostly studio photographs from Charlottesville Virginia from the 1890s through 1920. There are 9,500 images including 500 portraits of African Americans. Excellent download quality. The Jackson Davis Collection of African American Educational Photographs contains over 6,000 photographs of African American schools, teachers and students throughout the Southeastern United States was intended to demonstrate the wretched conditions of African American schools in the south and to show how they could be improved. They provide a unique view of southern education during the first half of the twentieth century. Excellent download quality. UVA allows use of the images for research, teaching, and private study. "For these purposes, you may reproduce (print, make photocopies, or download) materials from this website without prior permission, on the condition that you provide proper attribution of the source in all copies (see below). Although we do not require you to contact us in advance for these purposes, we do appreciate hearing from teachers, students, and researchers who are using our resources in interesting ways" (send e-mail to Special Collections at

Vanishing Georgia This digital collection comprises nearly 18,000 photographs from the Georgia Archives and documents more than 100 years of Georgia history and life. The site is not clear on Fair Use policies. Very good download quality.

Virginia Historical Society has an easily searchable Museum and Photograph online catalogue. Where a digital copy has been made it is linked to the catalogue and there is an option to limit the search to objects with digitized images. A search using the term "African American" yielded 186 results and included objects as well as images. The site declares "If patrons have acquired a copy of an image for research purposes and wish to reproduce it in any format, including personal, non-commercial web sites, they must seek the written permission of the VHS, include a credit line statement, and follow the criteria set forth in its usage policy. The VHS reserves the right to request the removal of its images from any web site. Anyone wishing to reproduce an image may be required to pay use fees."



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