Black History Through Archival Images: Part 2

Flickr Commons’ Curated Albums

Too many images of underrepresented people and groups go unidentified in archival collections. For Black History Month in the United States we’re showcasing some of our curated collections which tell the stories of Black experiences.

State Archives of North Carolina – Charlotte Hawkins Brown

Charlotte Hawkins Brown was an educator and civil rights activist who opened the Palmer Institute for Black students in Sedalia North Carolina in 1902.


The Palmer Institute was the only accredited rural high school (for African American or white students) in Guilford County NC. It graduated generations of Black educators; Brown worked there herself until she retired in 1952.


The State Archives also have a set of sixty archival images of North Carolinian women from the 1800s through the 1950s.



Other notable collections include this set of photographs of Black soldiers from North Carolina who fought in World War I and a collection of Raleigh’s lost African American architectural landmarks (as well as some that are still around).

N_2009_4_162 371st Infantry Band 1917

N_53_17_119 Shaw Hall


San Diego Air and Space Museum Archives – African Americans in Aviation

From the Tuskeegee Airmen to Mae Jemison, the San Diego Air and Space Museum Archives collects photographs and other ephemera, some of it from personal scrapbooks, documenting Black people working in aviation and aerospace.


Benjamin Davis, specifically had a long military career, retiring in 1998 as a four-star general.

Ben O Davis and P-51

Leroy Criss, another of the Tuskegee Airmen, kept a scrapbook where many of these images are from.

Criss 050-1

Mae Jemison

Willa Brown was the first Black woman to earn a pilot’s license in the United States.


Willa Brown

While we’re on the subject of space, NASA also has created a collection of Black astronauts and other people who worked in aerospace.

Winston Scott during EVA

Col. Frederick D. Gregory


National Library of Medicine – African American Medical Practitioners

The NLM has curated a collection of Black workers, mostly women, in the Public Health Service for their History of Medicine division.

Nurses standing with bicycles

Teeth cleaning

Improvised clinic

Mennonite Church USA – Camp Ebenezer Photographs, 1947-1950

Tillie Yoder Nauraine founded an early “fresh air” camp in Ohio for poor Black  children from Chicago. This was part of the Mennonite movement towards “building an interracial church in a segregated society.” Yoder opened the camp out of her conviction that “all people are equal in God’s eyes.”


Camp Ebenezer:  Boys Playing Baseball

Camp Ebenezer:  The First Ebenezer Campers

Camp Ebenezer: African American Children on Teeter-Totters

Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation Cornell University – Civil Rights

The International Ladies Garment Workers Union actively worked for the rights of Black workers in including picketing Woolworths and making a New York to Washington DC Prayer pilgrimage to mark the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that segregated schools are unconstitutional.

People picket against the Woolworth Company's practice of segregation, April 20, 1963.

Prayer pilgrimage attendees holding an ILGWU sign in front of their bus

The Kheel Center also has documentation of the Southern Tenants Farmers Union, an integrated union which held meetings in Parkin Arkansas in 1937.

Smiling STFU members at an outdoor meeting

Image verso: "An early union meeting." Black and White STFU members including Myrtle Lawrence and Ben Lawrence, listen to Norman Thomas speak outside Parkin, Arkansas on September 12, 1937. One man carries an enamel pot and drinking glass.

Large group sharing a meal at outdoor banquet tables during an STFU meeting

Black men listening to a speaker at an outdoor STFU meeting

If you’d like to see more archival photography (or other material) about Black history and culture, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division at New York Public Library owns over 300,000 images, thousands of which are online and over a thousand of which are in the public domain.

Or if you’re interested in modern Black photographers read this GQ article where twenty-five Black photographers discuss what drives their work or this Guardian article showcasing the best photography by Black female photographers or this blog post at spotlighting the work of photographer Ayesha Kazim.