Thousands of rare photos from Prairie View A&M will be digitized as part of a Getty Images HBCU grant

Photo of the Grandchildren’s Club from the 1943 Panther yearbook / Courtesy of Prairie View A&M University

A new Getty Images Photo Archives Grant for Historically Black Colleges and Universities aims to honor and amplify the legacy, stories, and contributions of HBCUs to American history.

Prairie View A&M University is one of four inaugural recipients selected to receive a combined $500,000 to support the digitization of up to 200,000 archival images this year.

Other grant winners are Jackson State University (Jackson, Mississippi), North Carolina Central University (Durham, North Carolina), and Claflin University (Orangeburg, South Carolina).

Roughly 50,000 rarely seen photographs from Prairie View A&M’s library will be preserved, restored, and digitized with funding from the grant. Photo subjects include stories of migration movements, voting rights, housing displacement, injustices, Black women in politics, and Black family life within Texas communities, according to a press release.

The collection also preserves the legacy of Elnora Teal and the Teal Portrait Studio, an influential African-American photography studio established in 1919 in Houston. It operated for decades in the city’s Third, Fourth, and Fifth Wards. Elnora Teal was one of only 100 Black female photographers in the country at the time, as documented by the 1920 U.S. Census.

Science class, undated photo / Courtesy of Prairie View A&M University

“Getty Images is proud to partner with archivists at each of the four HBCUs to uncover rarely seen photographs of Black culture and ensure these historical artifacts are preserved and accessible to storytellers around the world,” said Cassandra Illidge, VP of Partnerships at Getty Images, in a statement.

“This year’s Grant is just the beginning of our work helping to preserve HBCUs history and our commitment to the HBCU community,” Illidge said.

The HBCU Photo Collection is now online and available for licensing, with thousands of images to be added throughout 2022.

Other aspects of the grant:

  • Prairie View A&M archivists and librarians (and each of the respective HBCU recipients) will work alongside Getty Images and the post-production agency Adnet Global in the digitization of its collection.
  • HBCUs will retain copyright of their photos. 
  • Getty Images will provide funding and mentoring to support HBCU students interested in becoming involved in the digitization process.  
  • Revenue from the photos will be distributed to HBCUs: 50% will go to Grant recipients; 30% will go to a Scholarship Fund for HBCU students, with scholarships becoming available in 2022; and the remaining 20% will be reinvested to fund the Getty Images Photo Archive Grants for HBCUs each year.

Read more on the subject of African American photography in Texas:

Did you know there is a Texas African American Photography Archive?

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