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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 JPC Archive 

What is the JPC Archive? 

The Johnson Publishing Company Archive includes nearly 75 years of photography, video and audio recordings, and other related material used by Johnson Publishing Company (JPC) in the production of Ebony and JET magazines, as well as their other periodicals, books, and television and radio programming. Although it is still being cataloged, we estimate the collection includes more than four million photographic prints, slides and negatives and it takes up 2,700 linear feet of storage space (before cataloging). 

Who owns the JPC Archive? 

The Getty Research Institute, a program of the J. Paul Getty Trust (Getty), and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) jointly own the collection.  

How are Johnson Publishing Company and the JPC Archive connected? 

In 2019, a consortium of foundations – the Ford Foundation, The J. Paul Getty Trust, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Smithsonian Institution – acquired the archive of Johnson Publishing Company (JPC), publisher of the iconic Ebony and Jet magazines. The archive was acquired for $30 million as part of an auction of the assets of JPC in connection with its Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing. The foundation consortium transferred the archives to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) and the Getty Research Institute for the public benefit to ensure the broadest access for the general public and use by scholars, researchers, journalists, and other interested parties. 

What is happening with the JPC Archive? 

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 NMAAHC, will complete this work collaboratively over seven years (2022-2029). As material is digitized, it will be moved in phases into the physical care of NMAAHC. 

How can I access 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. 

When will I be able to access the JPC Archive online? 

The JPC Archive team is in the planning and testing stage of the seven-year project to conserve, catalog, and digitize the collection. We anticipate releasing the finding aid and digitized images, video, and audio recordings in phases as this work is completed and will share additional information when we finalize our plans. 


Image Licenses 

How do I license images from the JPC Archive? 

Email your request to and, including the magazine title, publication date, and page of the image you wish to use.  

Will you provide a high-resolution image with the license? 

At this time, we only have a few previously digitized images available. If you send a list of images you are requesting, we can review them and tell you if anything is available as a high-res image. 

Can I get scans of specific images? 

Until the collection is cataloged and digitized, we are not able to provide additional high-res images. You will need to obtain scans directly from the magazine or another source. 

What is the cost to license images from the JPC Archive? 

There is no fee to license images for use in educational and non-commercial projects. 

Can I license a JET or Ebony magazine cover? 

Permission for use of these magazine covers and articles must be obtained from Bridgeman Sports and Media, the current owners. 


Other questions 

A family member who worked for the Johnson Publishing Company passed away and I have their personal or professional archive. How can I donate it? 

While the Getty and NMAAHC are not jointly acquiring additional materials or collections related to JPC, potential donors may contact each organization individually to inquire about their interest. For donations to the Getty Research Institute, please contact LeRonn Brooks, PhD, Curator for Modern and Contemporary Collections at For donations to NMAAHC, please visit 

What is the relationship between Johnson Publishing Company images that might be on Getty Images and the JPC Archive? 

J. Paul Getty Trust is unrelated to Getty Images, and neither the J. Paul Getty Trust nor the Smithsonian has placed any photographs from the JPC Archive on Getty Images.  The JPC Archive is owned by the Smithsonian and J. Paul Getty Trust (through its operating program, the Getty Research Institute), and images will be made available at no charge as the Archive is processed. 

What is the relationship between Jet Magazine Archive/Ebony Magazine Archive and the JPC Archive?

Jet Magazine Archive and Ebony Magazine Archive are research databases available by subscription from EBSCO Information Services. Access to these research databases is unrelated to the JPC Archive and its owners, the Smithsonian and J. Paul Getty Trust.

Photograph Credit

Johnson Publishing Company Archive. Courtesy J. Paul Getty Trust and Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Made possible by the Ford Foundation, J. Paul Getty Trust, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Smithsonian Institution.