James Van Der Zee photographs, circa 1908-1935

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Source Collection

This digital collection comprises selected materials from the following archival collection at David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library:

James Van Der Zee photographs circa 1908-1935

Collection #RL.11758 | .5 Linear Feet (1 box)

Collection comprises 42 photographs taken by James Van Der Zee, known for his portraits and documentation of daily life in Harlem, N.Y., especially during the Harlem Renaissance (1920s-1930s). There are views of parades, athletic teams, a Baptist group, a first-grade Harlem classroom, and the interior of Van Der Zee's studio, as well as fictionalized settings and poses conveying hopes, dreams, and humorous situations. Subjects include an elegant couple in raccoon coats, a soldier, a female impersonator, a funerary portrait of a man in an open casket, Black Hebrews, Black Cross nurses, Marcus Garvey in regalia during a parade, entrepreneurs Madam C.J. Walker and her daughter A'Lelia, boxer Jack Johnson, and entertainer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. Included is a self-portrait of the photographer playing a violin, circa 1930. An early portrait of Van Der Zee's first wife and daughter was taken around 1908, in Lenox, Massachusetts, his birthplace. Average print size is roughly 10 3/4 x 12 inches. Almost all are exhibit prints created mostly in the 1980s from original negatives. Acquired as part of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture at Duke University.

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