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Johnson Publishing Company Archive Resource Guide

A resource of publications, selected archives, bibliographies, and information relating to the Johnson Publishing Company Archive.

About the Archive

The Archive documents the activities of the Johnson Publishing Company (JPC), including business records, ephemera, audiovisual materials, and printed copies of JPC titles such as Ebony, Jet, Tan, Confessions, Hue, Black Stars, and Negro Digest. At the heart of the collection are over 4 million prints, negatives, slides, and transparencies depicting iconic Black actors, musicians, fashion models, writers, leaders, and activists, as well as everyday citizens. The Archive provides critical visual documentation of the 20th-century Black experience in America, including images taken by David Jackson of Emmett Till, a fourteen-year-old Chicago boy who was lynched by two white men in Mississippi; and Moneta Sleet Jr.'s Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of Coretta Scott King at the funeral of her slain husband, Martin Luther King Jr.

Status of the JPC Archive

The collection is currently closed to the public and the archival staff is unable to facilitate access and research while it is cataloged and digitized. Since it was first acquired from Johnson Publishing Company, the collection has remained carefully housed in Chicago. Getty has committed an initial investment of $30M to support conserving, cataloging, and digitizing the collection so that it can be made available for public access and research. A team of experts, led jointly by Getty and the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), will complete this work collaboratively over seven years (2022-2029). As material is cataloged and digitized, it will be moved in phases into the physical care of NMAAHC. 

Preserving Black History in America: Historic Images from the JPC Archive

News and Updates

Rare Photos Eartha Kitt, The Jackson 5, and More, December 20, 2023

This holiday season, Getty is honoring the enduring legacy of the JPC Archive. Take a look and listen to a playlist of Christmas songs by iconic artists in the archive, and share in the nostalgia of the archivists who are working on the project. 

Matter of Fact Feature with Soledad O'Brien, November 11, 2023

LeRonn Brooks, PhD, Curator for Modern and Contemporary Collections, speaks about his experiences working with the Archive and the collection's significant impact while Soledad O'Brien provides updates about plans for the collection.

Learning the Art of Conservation with the Johnson Publishing Company ArchiveOctober 12, 2023

Read more about the conservation workshop that taught students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities how to preserve historical images from the Johnson Publishing Company Archive. Participants Qianna Thornton, Tyler Walker, Matthew Patterson, Keturah Bowles, and Nette Davis reflect on their experiences and career goals following the workshop.

The Ambitious Plan to Open Up a Treasure Trove of Black History, June 1, 2023

Learn about the planning that has gone into processing the acclaimed Johnson Publishing Company (JPC) Archive for future public access. This article includes insights into the early stages of planning and preparing the collection for researchers from staff working with the Archive.

Historic Jet and Ebony Photo Archive Transferred to Getty and NMAAHCJuly 28, 2022

Read more about the official transfer of ownership of the JPC Archive from a consortium comprised of the Ford Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Trust, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the Smithsonian Institution to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and to the Getty Research Institute (GRI), a program of the Getty Trust.

Archiving African American Art: Protecting a LegacyMay 17, 2022

LeRonn Brooks, PhD, Curator for Modern and Contemporary Collections, writes about his path to becoming the GRI's first African American curator to lead the African American Art History Initiative, as well as his experiences as the lead curator on the JPC acquisition.

Inside the Johnson Publishing Company ArchiveFebruary 17, 2022

Learn about the experiences of Steven D. Booth leading up to and throughout his first year as JPC Archive Manager. Booth shares insights into his memory work as a member of the local collective, the Blackivists, as well as the significance of JPC and the legacy of its archive.