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Guide to the Schomburg Center's Photographs and Prints Division: Portrait Collection

What is the Portrait Collection?

The Photographs and Prints Division’s Portrait Collection consists of approximately 25,000 portraits of over 1,600 notable African Americans, Africans and Black people of various nationalities, with an emphasis on African Americans. The collection includes candid and formal portraits of each person with colleagues, friends and/or family. Images in the are collection are a mix of original photographs, reproductions, and/or illustrations.

The Schomburg Center collected images in these files and categorized them by proper name beginning in approximately the 1930s. 

A full list of individuals can be accessed by searching for the term "Portrait Collection" in the NYPL Legacy Catalog, narrowed down to "Schomburg Photographs and Prints" under the "Collection" dropdown menu. To find specific people, you can search for individuals' proper names. We suggest searching for names in quotes. 

Here are just a few of the of the individuals with files in the collection:

  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Medgar Evars
  • Fannie Lou Hamer
  • Angela Davis
  • Madam C.J. Walker
  • Ralph Abernathy
  • Toussaint L'Ouverture
  • Ella Baker
  • Langston Hughes
  • Rosa Parks

Portrait Collection: Examples on Digital Collections