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Nancy T. Robinson

historian, collector, archivist, photographer, and entrepreneur, was born Wallace Michael Branch in Brooklyn, New York, one of two sons of Byrd Branch, an entrepreneur who operated a cleaning and tailoring business in New York City and held down a thirty-five-year job at the weekly newspaper Irish Echo to support his family, and Vera Barbour Branch. In Brooklyn, Branch and his family lived a solid middle-class lifestyle, making their home in a four-floor brownstone home that they owned.

Branch was born with sickle cell anemia a hereditary incurable chronic disorder with which patients suffer severe pain and tissue and organ damage as a result of oxygen and nutrient deficiencies At the time of Branch s birth information about and treatment of the disease were limited According to his family doctors who treated Branch as a child never gave him much hope for survival At fourteen Branch became so ill that he ...

Article

Robert L. Gale

bibliophile, researcher, and photographer, was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the son of Jacob Gardiner and Martha (maiden name unknown). In 1902 he and his family moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From childhood he was interested in reading, cross-country running, hiking, camping, and bicycling. Later he developed an interest in music, choir singing, and photography. Racial discrimination kept him from attending the photography school of his choice in Philadelphia, to his great disappointment. In the early 1900s he began to collect material of various kinds concerning black achievements, black institutions, and the lynching of blacks.

From about 1908 to 1923 Gardiner attended meetings of the Philadelphia Afro American Historical Society later the American Negro Historical Society expressed his ideas and described his findings in what he called race literature He continued to build his collection of black memorabilia and helped to form a group of bibliophiles ...

Article

Robert L. Gale

Leon Gardiner was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the son of Jacob Gardiner and Martha (maiden name unknown). In 1902 he and his family moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From childhood he was interested in reading, cross-country running, hiking, camping, and bicycling. Later he developed an interest in music, choir singing, and photography. Blatant racial discrimination kept him from attending the photography school of his choice in Philadelphia, to his great disappointment. In the very early 1900s he began to collect material of various kinds concerning the achievements of blacks, black institutions, and Lynchings of blacks.

From 1908 to 1923 or so Gardiner attended meetings held by Philadelphia s Afro American Historical Society later the American Negro Historical Society expressed his ideas and described his findings in what he called race literature and was encouraged by fellow members in various ways He kept adding to his collection ...

Article

Prentice Herman Polk became interested in photography at a young age. He began studying through a correspondence course which he paid for with ten dollars he was mistakenly given as change for a candy bar at a local store.

Polk attended Tuskegee Institute from 1916 to 1920 and was ...

Article

The holder of a Ph.D. degree in African Studies from the University of Paris, Pierre Verger traveled through various countries between 1932 and 1945 as a as a professional photographer and researcher for the Musée Ethnographique du Trocadéro (Ethnographic Museum of Trocadéro; today the Musée de l'Homme). He eventually settled in the city of Salvador in the Brazilian province of Bahia in 1946, where he explored in depth the black culture of Africa and Brazil, writing several books on the subject. Verger's pioneering work traced strong links between the religion and culture of Dahomey (now Benin) and Brazil. In 1952, while in Dahomey, he was initiated into the Yoruba Religion, given the name Fatumbi, and made a babalawo, or priest, of the Ifa divination system.

Some of Verger's publications include Fiestas y danzas en el Cuzco y en los Andes Celebrations and ...

Article

Jennifer Lynn Headley

artist, educator, and art historian specializing in African American photographic history, was born in North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her father, Thomas, was a police officer, and her mother, Ruth, was a hairdresser. Willis grew up with four sisters in a tight-knit and loving family. Her father, the family photographer, and his cousin (who name is not known) who owned a photographic studio, constantly took pictures of daily family life, including her mother's visual transformation of the neighborhood women as a hairdresser. Willis was mesmerized by images in the media and noted how blacks were portrayed as criminals or outsiders to the normal, suburban white family. Willis also noted that African Americans were omitted completely from history books except for references to slavery in the antebellum South. In Langston Hughes and Roy DeCarava's lyrical photo essay The Sweet Flypaper of Life (1955 Willis discovered tender images of black ...

Article

Donna M. Wells

Deborah Willis-Kennedy has successfully pursued a dual professional career. First an accomplished art photographer, she later became the nation’s leading historian of African American photography. Since the 1980s her investigation and recovery of the rich legacy of African American photography have provided an invaluable and irreplaceable resource for filling the gap in American historiography. She has curated numerous exhibitions, lectured, and published widely the contributions of African Americans to contemporary and historical photography.

Deborah Willis was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to an industrious and entrepreneurial family. Thomas Meridith Willis was born in Orange County, Virginia, and moved to Philadelphia as a teenager. He was a tailor, owned a grocery store in North Philadelphia, and was a policeman in Philadelphia for twenty-five years. Her mother, Ruth Holman was born in Philadelphia and owned her own hair salon Willis attended Walton Elementary and Roosevelt Junior High School She graduated with ...