Helen Armstead-Johnson photograph collection

Collection History

This digital compilation was developed in support of the NYPL website, "The African American Migration Experience," a sweeping 500-year historical narrative from the transatlantic slave trade to the Western migration, the colonization movement, the Great Migration, and the contemporary immigration of Caribbeans, Haitians, and sub-Saharan Africans.

Related Resources

NYPL. "In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience."(2005) <http://www.inmotionaame.org>

Collection Data

The Helen Armstead-Johnson Photograph Collection consists of over 15,000 photographs, prints, postcards and transparencies, which document the contributions of African-Americans to the performing arts, both in the United States and abroad. The collection which dates from the nineteenth century to the 1990s documents the work of actors, dancers, musicians, singers and comedians as well as playwrights, composers, songwriters, producers, directors and choreographers. There are also a handful of images of African-American circus performers that may be found mainly in the Ulysses S. "Kid" Thompson collection and also in the files of a few of the other entertainers. The collection consists of studio and publicity portraits of individual entertainers; motion picture, television stills and theater scenes of performances by African-Americans; personal collections of individual entertainers which were donated to the Armstead-Johnson Foundation for Black Theater Research; and a collection of over 1,000 postcards, which includes a rare group of pre-1915 postcard portraits of African-American performers, produced in Europe.
Johnson, Helen A. (Collector)
Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1890 - 1999 (Questionable)
Library locations
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division
Shelf locator: Sc Photo Helen Armstead-Johnson Photograph Collection
African American actors
Blackface entertainers -- United States
Performing arts -- United States
Theatrical productions -- United States
African American actresses
Johnson, Helen A.
Blake, Eubie, 1887-1983
Cisco, Goldie
Covan, Willie, 1897-1988
African Americans in the performing arts
Bibliographic history: The Helen Armstead-Johnson photograph collection was assembled by English professor Helen Armstead-Johnson, beginning in the 1960s, during the course of her research into the contributions of African-Americans to the American stage. The collection consists of photographs, prints, postcards and transparencies that document African-American entertainers in various areas of the performing arts. In 1974 Johnson established the Armstead-Johnson Foundation for Theater Research for the purpose of further collecting as well as preserving, documenting and interpreting the contributions of African-Americans to the performing arts. The entire collection, consisting of several thousand photographs, posters, letters, scrapbooks, costumes and costume designs, recordings and other memorabilia, was donated to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in December 1996.
Physical Description
Extent: 15,635 items (24.5 lin. ft., 15 boxes, 3 record cartons) 199 photographic prints : silver gelatin, b&w ; 58 x 86 cm. and smaller. 2496 photographic prints : silver gelatin, b&w ; 26 x 21 cm. and smaller. 2204 photographic prints : silver gelatin, b&w ; 18 x 26 cm. and smaller. 219 photographic prints : silver gelatin, b&w ; 18 x 16 cm. and smaller. 137 photographic prints : col. ; 35 x 28 cm. and smaller. 121 photographic prints : col. ; 18 x 26 cm. and smaller. 340 ephemera ; 33 x 27 cm. and smaller. 1140 postcards : b&w, some col. ; 18 x 13 cm. and smaller. 687 postcards : b&w, some col. ; 18 x 24 cm. and smaller. 86 photomechanical prints : halftone, b&w, some col. ; 33 x 49 cm. and smaller. 61 photolithographs : halftone ; 28 x 31 cm. and smaller. 29 photographic postcards : b&w, some col. ; 16 x 20 cm. and smaller. 44 contact sheets : silver gelatin, b&w ; 26 x 21 cm. and smaller. 30 key sheets : silver gelatin, b&w ; 27 x 36 cm. and smaller. 12 instant camera photographs ; 12 x 10 cm. and smaller. 3 cabinet photographs : b&w ; 17 x 11 cm. 1,097 slides : col. ; 5 x 5 cm. 7 advertising cards : b&w ; 15 x 9 cm. and smaller. 2 transparencies : col. ; 13 x 10 cm. 56 negatives : b&w ; 26 x 21 cm. and smaller. 54 clippings : halftone, b&w ; 20 x 23 cm. and smaller. 29 menus ; 36 x 28 cm. and smaller.
Type of Resource
Still image
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b14907059
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 93b16510-c634-012f-3fb3-58d385a7bc34
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