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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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: 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.
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.
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.
2020: A world in lockdown, a world in protest