Robert Langmuir African American Photograph Collection

The Collection

A rare collection of more than 10,000 photographs depicting African American life from the late 19th and early 20th centuries has been acquired by Emory University's Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library (MARBL) from photo collector Robert Langmuir of Philadelphia.

The images range from the 1840s – the beginning of photography – to the 1970s, with most of the photos falling in the post-Civil War to pre-World War II era. They include nearly every format, from daguerreotypes to snapshots, and cover a wide range of subject matter. A number of the photos were taken by African American photographers, a topic in itself.

The photos are of both ordinary people and well-known names of the times, such as newspaper editor and early civil rights activist William Monroe Trotter, black nationalist Marcus Garvey, sculptor Selma Burke, blues musicians Howlin' Wolf and Lightnin' Hopkins, Pearl Harbor hero Dorie Miller, and religious leaders Noble Drew Ali, Father Divine and Bishop Elmira Jeffries, among many others.

Robert Langmuir

Growing up in Philadelphia in an African American neighborhood, Robert Langmuir has been interested in black history for most of his life. A rare-book seller for 35 years, he’s collected photos and family albums through antique book shows or ephemera fairs, auctions and networking.

You can search the collection through the online finding aid.
Parts of the collection will be available digitally to the public soon.