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Great Migration: Finding Pictures

Selected Collections

Please note that terminology in historical materials and in Library descriptions does not always match the language preferred by members of the communities depicted, and may include negative stereotypes or words some may consider offensive. Item descriptions often include direct transcriptions of original captions. Suggested search terms may reflect such language. The Library presents the historic captions because they can be important for understanding the context in which the images were created.

Documentary Surveys

Alfred T. Palmer, photographer. Conversion. Auto body plant. He used to be an automobile worker, but he's one of Uncle Sam's war workers these days, with the conversion of his company to the production of airplane parts. In the picture above, he's assembling part of a wing section. Briggs Manufacturing Company, Detroit, Michigan. 1942. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

FSA/OWI Photograph Collection (1935-1944)

The Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information (FSA/OWI) photographs form an extensive pictorial record of American life between 1935 and 1944. There are hundreds of images related to African American communities across the United States.

Lomax Collection (1934-ca. 1950)

This collection includes 400 snapshot photographs made in the course of ethnographic fieldwork carried out by John Avery Lomax, Alan Lomax, Ruby Terrill Lomax, Zora Neale Hurston and Mary Elizabeth Barnicle between 1934 and ca. 1950. The photographs depict African American, Mexican American, and white musicians, singers and dancers, primarily in the southern United States and the Bahamas. The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress holds the associated field recordings.

Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey Collection (about 1933-present)

The Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscape Survey (HABS/HAER/HALS) collection includes photographs, measured drawings, and written historical documentation on thousands of structures from about 1933 to the present. The collection includes dozens of surveys of structures related to African American history.

Theodor Horydczak Collection (1920s-1940s)

This collection (about 14,350 photographs online) documents the architecture and social life of the Washington metropolitan area in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, including exteriors and interiors of commercial, residential, and government buildings, as well as street scenes and views of neighborhoods.

Newspaper and Magazine Photograph Collections

Marion S. Trikosko, photographer. [Group of African Americans viewing the bomb-damaged home of Arthur Shores, NAACP attorney, Birmingham, Alabama]. 1963. U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

LOOK Magazine Photograph Collection (1952-1971)

This collection is a vast photographic archive created to illustrate Look magazine and related publications between 1952 and 1971. The collection offers insight into the magazine's photojournalistic documentation of aspects of society and culture in the mid-twentieth century.

LOOK Magazine Picture Research File (1935-1970)

A collection of chiefly photographic prints used as reference material on personalities and a variety of subjects for the publication of stories in Look Magazine from 1935 to 1970. A finding aid for the collection provides folder headings that can be listed on a call slip to request access to corresponding material in person in the Prints & Photographs Reading Room, allowing for advance notice of 10 business days.

New York World-Telegram & Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection (bulk 1920-1967)

Newsworthy images of the New York city metropolitan area predominate; also covers other United States areas and foreign countries (bulk 1920 to 1967). Emphasis is on personalities in the news, but also portrays daily life of American men, women and children. Includes images related to African Americans. A finding aid -- divided into a biographical section and a subject/geographic section and available on site -- provides alphabetical folder headings that can be listed on a call slip to request access to corresponding material in person in the Prints & Photographs Reading Room, allowing for advance notice of 5 business days.

U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection (1952 and 1986)

Chronological pictorial representation of local, national, and international news topics, with particular emphasis on Washington, D.C., and the United States (1952-1986). Topics include domestic life, health care, and housing. An alphabetical card index created by U.S. News & World Report staff provides call numbers for folders which contain contact sheets and some frame enlargements. Physical file is arranged roughly chronologically.

Harris & Ewing Collection (1905-1945)

This collection of photographic negatives includes glass and film negatives taken by Harris & Ewing, Inc. between 1905 and 1945, which provide excellent coverage of Washington people, events, and architecture.

National Photo Company Collection (1909-1932)

Documents virtually all aspects of Washington, D.C., life between 1909 and 1932.

Images from Organization Records, Personal Papers and Artist Collections

[Flag, announcing lynching, flown from the window of the NAACP headquarters on 69 Fifth Ave., New York City]. [1936]. Visual Materials from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Records. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

Visual materials from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Records (bulk 1944-1955)

Visual materials from the NAACP records collection consist primarily of photographs of national and local NAACP administrative staff and programs, with images of civil rights promotion efforts through litigation and public protest. Includes images related to anti-lynching campaign, and victims of racial violence.

Visual materials from the National Urban League Records (bulk 1946 - 1982)

Visual materials from this collection consist primarily of photographs of national and local NAACP administrative staff and programs, with images of civil rights promotion efforts through litigation and public protest. Includes images related to anti-lynching campaign, and victims of racial violence. To make a request to see the Visual materials from the National Urban League Records, follow instructions for "Access to Unprocessed Materials."

Visual materials from the Rosa Parks Papers (bulk comprises photographs from 1980 to 2001)

The bulk of the Visual materials from the Rosa Parks papers (photographs from 1980 to 2001) show Parks at social and political events, award ceremonies and speaking engagements primarily in the United States, with some activities in Canada, Japan and Sweden. Additionally, there are over 400 drawings from elementary and middle school students throughout the United States expressing gratitude for and birthday wishes to Rosa Parks. The collection also includes photographs of Rosa Parks' family--the Edwards and the McCauleys. And, twenty photograph albums representing her early life and family (LOT 15048) and her many activities. Materials date from ca. 1890-ca. 2005.

Van Vechten photograph collection (bulk 1930s-1950s)

Chiefly studio portraits of people involved in the arts, including musicians; dancers; artists; literati; theatrical, film and television actors and actresses. Also included are antique dealers, athletes, publishers, statesmen, and many people associated with the Harlem Renaissance. Materials date from 1927-1964.

Works by individual photographers and other artists

References to works by various photographers, such as Aaron Siskind and Bruce Davidson, can be found through a search of the online catalog. Photographers Ernest Withers, Constantine (Costa) Manos, and James Hinton, among others, documented voter registration drives (contemporary with the U.S. News photo above documenting the bomb-damaged home of Arthur Shores) and other Civil Rights-related activities. Many of these photographs are unprocessed, requiring advance notice so that a service appointment can be made to view them indicated by an "Access Advisory" in the corresponding catalog record.

Posters, Prints and Drawings

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. At the ballot box, everybody is equal, register and vote Join the NAACP. [between 1970 and 1980]. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

Yanker Poster Collection (bulk 1960's and 1970's)

This collection includes political, propaganda, and social issue posters, including some that address segregation and other forms of racial injustice.

Fine Prints and Drawings