Collection documents educational activities of African-Americans from the 1900s to the mid-1990s with the bulk of the images covering the 1940s to the 1970s. Images from the early 1900s to the 1920s and the early 1990s are limited. The collection portrays African-Americans as students and as educators. Also depicted are views of buildings and facilities of some historically black colleges and universities. Depicted are academic, technical, and agricultural programs and extra-curricular activities from nursery school through post-secondary school and adult education classes; portraits of educators, including college presidents; portraits of students; views of government sponsored educational programs, such as the Work Progress Administration's (WPA) Federal Art and Federal Music Projects; and views of buildings and grounds. Portraits of well-known educators may also be found in the Portrait collection.
Collection is divided into six series: I. Pre-K through 12th grade; II. Higher education; III. Adult education; IV. Civilian defense education; V. Educators; and VI. Buildings and facilities.
The Pre-K through 12th Grade series (1900-1990) comprises the majority of the collection. Depicted are classrooms, student performances, award and graduation ceremonies, student exhibits, field trips, and school visitors. Included is documentation of two Federal programs, the Head Start Program (1960s?) and the WPA's Federal Music and Federal Art Projects (1930s).
The Higher education series (191?-199?) includes images of historically black colleges including Hampton Institute, Tuskegee Institute and Howard University. Photos depict classrooms, campus life, sport teams, conferences, internships, alumni functions, college visitors, exhibits, award and graduation ceremonies and facilities and grounds.
The Adult education series (193?-198?) includes images of adults studying for various careers and receiving remedial instruction. Also included are WPA Federal Art and Federal Music Project programs geared to adults.
The Civilian Defense education series (1942-1945?) consists of photographs produced by the Office of War Information documenting civilian defense programs in nursery, primary and secondary schools in the Washington D.C. area. Some of the activities portrayed include military drills, physical education classes, cooking demonstrations, war bond and stamp drives, gardening, recycling activities, and model airplane construction.
The Educators series (1927-198?) consists mainly of portraits of educators including college presidents. Of special note is a series of images documenting a meeting between U.S. President Jimmy Carter and the Presidents of various historically Black colleges and universities.
The Buildings and facilities series (194?-198?) show mainly exterior views of facilities and grounds of primary, secondary and post-secondary schools. The series also contains views of facilities and grounds of some historically Black colleges.