In the 1980s, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe an American photographer, wanted to document the contributions of black female photographers in the United States. She dug through US Census reports and business directories to track down women like Jennie Louise Van Der Zee Welcome, who photographed the Harlem renaissance, or Elizabeth “Tex” Williams, the first black photographer in the Women’s Army Corp during World War II. Moutoussamy-Ashe finally published Viewfinders: Black Women Photographers in 1986, updating it in 1993. Since then there has been no other comprehensive compilation of the work of black women photographers.
More than 30 years later, Laylah Amatullah Barrayn, a photographer based in Brooklyn, is publishing an anthology of work by black women photographers descent, Mfon: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora. Barrayn’s book, funded by a grant from the Brooklyn Arts Council as well as a crowdfunding campaign, features 100 female photographers of the African diaspora, including those based in the US, Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean. It’s named after Mmekutmfon ‘Mfon’ Essien, a young Nigerian-American photographer who passed away in 2001.
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY & CULTURE | WASHINGTON, DC
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. It was established by Act of Congress in 2003, following decades of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans. To date, the Museum has collected more than 36,000 artifacts and nearly 100,000 individuals have become charter members. The Museum opened to the public on September 24, 2016, as the 19th and newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution. (Website).