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Collection of African American Children photographs

Identifier: MSS 16798

Content Description

This collection contains ninety-eight photographs of African American children and families at home and play from about the 1950s to the 1990s. Measurements range from 6" X 4" to 2" X 2" inches and are in color and black and white. Several subjects recur throughout the archive. All are unidentified; only three have any annotations on the back. The photographed figures, primarily children but some family shots included, are captured within their homes or playing outside. Activities include playing, swimming, posing, and celebrating holidays and special occasions.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within c. 1950s-1990s

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Biographical / Historical

These photographs show Black children enjoying childhood, posing beside Christmas trees and held fast in the arms of their grandmothers. Black joy is a phrase used by historians to highlight the positive aspects of Black history separate from its suffering. Representations of African Americans living lives at once ordinary and inspired, both deeply personal and universal, is an integral piece of any American history archive. "Expressions and acts of Black joy are often enouraged as a way for Black people to fully be themselves and form a sense of community as a response to systems that devalue them and stifle their self-expression. In this way, engaging in and sharing experiences of Black joy are seen not as ways of ignoring opression but as acts of resistance against it."


0.06 Cubic Feet (2 letter size folders)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was purchased from Max Rambod Inc. by the Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia Library on 01 March 2023.


African American Children photographs
Ellen Welch
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library Repository

Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
P.O. Box 400110
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22904-4110 United States