Little Known Black History Fact: Robert Langmuir Photo Collection

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  • Emory University has just acquired the Robert Langmuir African-American Collection. The Langmuir collection is a 12,000-image record of black culture from the mid-1800’s to the early 1960’s.

    The remarkable note about this collection is that black photographers took most of the photographs featuring racist scenes with blatant threats.

    Among the photos in the Langmuir collection is work by Arthur Bedou, Booker T. Washington's personal photographer. Also included were photos by Diane Arbus (a white photographer) of an early traveling black Carnival in Times Square. The Arbus photos have been valued between $20,000- $60,000 each. Other photos taken within the collection include those by less famous photographers, who simply snapped the photographs representing blacks life during segregation, and during both good and bad times in history.

    Langmuir is a private collector whose interest in black life and culture began with his African-American childhood caretaker. Langmuir began collecting the manuscripts and art of black writers and artists twenty years ago. He has since collected photos from subjects like HBCU baseball teams during their early conception, freed slaves and female boxers. Others include gripping and less appealing like the one of a black woman nursing a black child on one breast and a white one on the other, perhaps without a choice in the matter.

    The Robert Langmuir Collection is now held under strict supervision at the Emory University Robert W. Woodruff Library, 10th floor, 540 Asbury Circle, in Atlanta, GA.
     

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