Top of page

Collection African American Photographs Assembled for 1900 Paris Exposition

About this Collection

The Paris Exposition of 1900 (Exposition universelle internationale de 1900) devoted a building to matters of "social economy." The United States section of the building featured an exhibit that, according to W. E. B. Du Bois, attempted to show "(a) The history of the American Negro. (b) His present condition. (c) His education. (d) His literature." 1

Du Bois and Thomas J. Calloway, who was named special agent for the Exposition, spearheaded the planning, collection and installation of the exhibit materials, which included 500 photographs, as well as 32 charts, numerous maps, and a display of 200 books written by African Americans. Calloway's report to the U.S. Commissioner-General for the exposition mentions such sources of photographs as:

  • Coleman Manufacturing Company, Concord, N.C.
  • C.E. Fleetwood of the U.S. War Department
  • Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, Hampton, Va.
  • Bishop B.F. Lee of Wilberforce, Ohio, James P. Niell of Nashville, Tenn.
  • Roger Williams University
  • Shaw University
  • Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute. 2

The Library of Congress holds approximately 220 mounted photographs reportedly displayed in the exhibition (LOTs11293-11308), as well as material specially compiled by Du Bois: four photograph albums showing "Types" and "Negro Life" (LOT 11930); three albums entitled "The Black Code of Georgia, U.S.A.," offering transcriptions of Georgia state laws relating to blacks, 1732-1899 (LOT 11932); and 72 drawings charting the condition of African Americans at the turn of the century (LOT 11931).

The materials cataloged online include all of the photos in LOT 11930, and any materials in the other groups for which copy negatives have been made.


  1. Du Bois, W.E. Burghardt, "The American Negro at Paris" American Monthly Review of Reviews 22:5 (November 1900): 576.
  2. Report of the Commissioner-General for the United States to the International Universal Exposition, Paris, 1900, (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1901), v. II, p. 464. [Return to text]