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Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers, 1840 to the Present

Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers, 1840 to the Present

February 4, 2000 – July 16, 2000

African Americans were pioneers in the medium of photography: Jules Lion began producing daguerreotypes in New Orleans in 1840, one year after the invention of the process. Beginning with Lion’s work, this exhibition traces the history of African American photography in three sections.

Rather than a comprehensive history of black photography, the exhibition provides a context for reflecting on the works of a selected number of photographers working as daguerreotypists, portraitists, journalists, and media artists. The images in this exhibition form a technical history of the medium as well as a pictorial history of African Americans.


The Boss, P.H. Polk, 1932. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Delano A. Willis, © Tuskegee University Archives