Historic HBCU Photos Now Digitized Through Getty Images Grant

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Thousands upon thousands of vintage HBCU photos, capturing campus life and historic moments, are now digitized for the first time ever thanks to a Getty Images grant.

The first round of photographs was released on Tuesday and are now available to view and license through the Getty Images’ Historically Black Colleges and Universities Collection. The collection covers HBCU homecomings, protests, life in the classroom, basketball games and many more priceless snapshots of the schools’ vibrant histories—available all in one place in the online archive. Some photos are dated as far back as the 1800s.

The recipients of the $500,000 grant, revealed last summer, include Claflin University, North Carolina Central University, Jackson State University, and Prairie View A&M University.

“This partnership will help Claflin preserve its illustrious history in photographs documenting the University’s emergence as one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities,” said Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack, president of Claflin University, according to Globe Newswire. “These images provide compelling visual narratives of how Claflin’s dedicated and visionary administrators, distinguished faculty and staff, and high-achieving scholars made indelible contributions to Orangeburg, the state of South Carolina, and the world.”

The HBCUs will keep full copyright to the digital photos to use freely. Grant recipients will receive half of the proceeds from the licensing of the collection’s photos. The 2022 Scholarship Fund for HBCU students will receive 30% of the revenue, and the last 20% will be spent on future Getty Images grants for HBCUs.

Getty Images will digitize the archives, capping out at 200,000 photos, at the location of the HBCU grant recipients. The company, known for its vast library of stock images, invites students from the universities to join in on the digitizing process that will conclude after one year.

The grant is a result of a partnership between Getty Images, the Getty Family and the philanthropic nonprofit Stand Together.

“Photographic collections housed in HBCU’s from the 20th Century focus on the notion of photography as biography and helped shape the fabric of African American identities. These collections explore the cultural values, educational and religious traditions, as well as perceptions of Black communities through to the 21st Century,” said Dr. Deborah Willis, a member of the panel that selected grant recipients, according to a Getty Images post. “The Getty Images Photo Archive Grants for HBCUs is an essential part of the on‑going documentation and preservation of Black images at HBCUs.”

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