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January 25, 2022

A.A. Schomburg: Collector of lost histories

Artstor has released more than 2,000 images from The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a world-leading cultural institution devoted to the research, preservation, and exhibition of materials focused on African American, African Diaspora, and African experiences. The center was named after its chief early contributor, Arthur Schomburg. The collection can be freely accessed by everyone on both Artstor and JSTOR.

Photograph of Arthur Alfonso Schomburg. Is Hayti decadent? Issued: 1904. Image and original data from the New York Public Library. No Copyright – United States.

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January 24, 2022

Discover Black history with Artstor and JSTOR collections

In honor of Black History Month, we have consolidated a list of varied resources available on the Artstor/JSTOR platforms, from licensed collections to freely available community generated collections. We invite you to explore the resources – historic chronicles from manuscripts, newspapers, documents and recordings, the story of African American art told by the works themselves, photographic archives portraying the lives of celebrated African Americans and those we no longer know. Discover great works, official records, iconic portraits, ephemera and memorabilia in the collections below.

Josephine Baker, 1930s-1940s. Image and data from Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
Riley, Anthony. Ecstasy Garage Disco, Feb. 14, 1981. Image and data from Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
Heliton, Bob. Angela Davis smoking, 1968. Image and data from Stephan Loewentheil Photograph Collection, #8043. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
Phase 2, Lonny Wood. Ecstasy Garage Disco, Nov. 27, 1980. Image and data from Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
Lambert Center, Nov. 20, 1982. Image and data from Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
Two women standing, early 20th century. Image and data from Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.

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January 14, 2022

New: Open images from the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Open Artstor: Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture is now available on both the Artstor and JSTOR platforms, featuring a selection of approximately 2,500 images under Creative Commons licenses. This is part of an initiative to aggregate open museum, library, and archive collections across disciplines on both resources. We are proud to present this content, along with the freshly published Open Artstor: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (New York Public Library) collection as part of an ongoing initiative to bring more African American resources to Artstor and JSTOR.

Photographic postcard of soldiers in World War One at Verdun. July 1918. Image and data from the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Creative Commons: Free Reuse (CC0).

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December 9, 2021

Celebrations of light

Samuel Palmer. The Harvest Moon. c. 1833

Samuel Palmer. The Harvest Moon. c. 1833. Image and data from the Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

As the strength of the sun wanes in the fall, our festivities and rites tend to be centered on the elements of fire and light — natural, divine, and synthetic. It is no accident that many of our brightest celebrations light up our darkest months. Below, we have selected some images that collectively exalt the power of light to animate our revels.

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November 17, 2021

Giving thanks

Bob Gore. Giving Thanks, Terrier Rouge, Haiti. 10 Oct. ‘07. Image and data from Bob Gore Productions, Inc.

We are on the cusp of the holiday season, a quiet, delicious pause before the big rush — a time when we slow down to reflect and give thanks. In the spirit of A.A. Milne’s inimitable philosopher Piglet, we may recall our capacity for gratitude: “Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” In celebration of Thanksgiving, we are highlighting expressions of thanks through time and across the world.

John Biggers. Jubilee Ghana Harvest Festival. 1959-1963. Image and data from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. © John T. Biggers Estate Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

A moment of grace bestills the bowed heads of three small Haitian girls captured by the photographer Bob Gore, while a swell of Ghanian women is moved by thankful joy during a Harvest Festival in a monumental painting by the African American artist John Biggers.

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October 6, 2021

Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Larry Towell. USA. Albuquerque, New Mexico. 2017.

Larry Towell. USA. Albuquerque, New Mexico. 2017. Powwow ground… Indian Trader’s Market. Photograph. Image and data from Magnum Photos. © 2020 Larry Towell / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SAIF, Paris.

Since the early 1990s, communities across America have honored Indigenous Peoples’ Day—South Dakota and Berkeley, California being the leaders. Currently more than 15 states and many municipalities observe the day, and there is a resolution before Congress to declare a federal holiday (H.Res.627). In it, Congresswoman Deb Haaland, Co-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus, declares: “Our resolution recognizing Indigenous People’s Day acknowledges our country’s real history and celebrates our languages, traditions, and heritage… By dedicating this day to the strength and resilience of Indigenous peoples, we condemn those who have tried to erase us, and build strength through understanding.”

Artstor marks the day with a selection of stirring works that express Indigenous cultures across the continent.1

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August 16, 2021

Back to school, REALLY!

Abbie Trayler-Smith. A pupil at the Krishna-Avanti primary school in Harrow, North London, the first state-funded Hindu faith school in Britain. 2009. Photograph. Image and data from Panos Pictures. © Abbie Trayler-Smith / Panos Pictures.

Our collective experience of lockdown and isolation during the past 18 months makes the prospect of this coming school year particularly exciting. And while nothing compares to the delight of face-to-face conversations with instructors and fellow students, there is still digital research to be done! We have good news on that end.

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August 11, 2021

Back to the museums

If you haven’t yet ventured back to your preferred museums, now is the time. Summer is coming to an end and the pandemic has deprived us of months of museum-going pleasure — reward yourself. We have assembled a list of some eye-catching exhibitions for the coming year. We’ll begin with a couple that are ending soon:

Jacob Lawrence. We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility…. 1955. Painting. Image and data from the Harvard Art Museums. © 2021 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle
The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C., June 26-September 19, 2021

Most of the 30 original panels from Jacob Lawrence’s series on the American Revolution have been reunited for this exhibition that has toured several museums. The artist conceived and executed the paintings during the mid-1950s as the Civil Rights Movement grew and his interpretation incorporated the actions of enslaved Black people as part of the arc of American history.

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June 16, 2021

Celebrating Juneteenth with quilts: sewing freedom, unity, and joy

Photograph of cotton quilt

America Irby. Quilt. Image and data from The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. © 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

We was taught there’s so many different ways to build a quilt. It’s like building a house. You can start with a bedroom over there, or a den over here, and just add on until you get what you want. Ought not two quilts ever be the same. You might use exactly the same material, but you would do it different. A lot of people make quilts just for your bed, for to keep you warm. But a quilt is more. It represents safekeeping, it represents beauty, and you could say it represents family history. 1

Mensie Lee Pettway (b. 1939), on learning her craft from her mother America Irby.

Jennie Pettway and another girl with quilter Jorena Pettway

Arthur Rothstein. Jennie Pettway and another girl with the quilter Jorena Pettway. 1937. Image and data from The Library of Congress.

Romare Howard Bearden. Quilting Time. 1985. Image and data from the Detroit Institute of Art. Art © Estate of Romare Bearden / Licensed by VAGA, New York.

Juneteenth is an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, and we are celebrating with a virtual exhibition of African American quilts. June 19 observes and renews the call for freedom, justice, and equality in the African American community. From the period of slavery through emancipation and up to current times, the activities and output of quilters have embodied strength, bound the community, and bestowed beauty and warmth, echoing the spirit of the holiday. An archival photograph of two generations of the Pettway family sewing together, 1937, and the mosaic mural Quilting Time, 1986, by Romare Bearden attest to the community building/family bonding attributes of the tradition.

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