The Library of Congress has acquired the archive of photographer Shawn Walker and his collection of photos, ephemera and audio recordings representing the influential Kamoinge Workshop based in Harlem, the Library announced today.
Founded in New York City in 1963, the Kamoinge Workshop is a collective of leading African American photographers, such as Anthony Barboza, Louis Draper, Adger Cowans, Albert Fenner, Ray Francis, Toni Parks, Herb Randall, Herb Robinson, Beuford Smith and Ming Smith. Walker is a founding member and also served as an archivist, helping to preserve the group’s history.
The Shawn Walker archive contains nearly 100,000 photographs, negatives and transparencies depicting life in Harlem — a pivotal crossroad of African diaspora culture — between 1963 and the present. The Kamoinge collection — generously donated by Walker — consists of nearly 2,500 items, including prints by Kamoinge members such as Barboza, Draper, Smith and others. The Library of Congress worked with the Photography Collections Preservation Project to acquire both the Walker archive and the Kamoinge collection with an electronic finding aid. These materials will join the Library’s other important collections of photography by African Americans such as Gordon Parks, Robert McNeill, Roland Freeman, Dawoud Bey and Walker’s mentor, Roy DeCarava.
Walker’s collection is the first comprehensive archive of an African American photographer to join the national library, which has collected photographs by African Americans for more than 100 years.