Picturing Black History: A Digital Humanities Platform

Damarius Johnson's picture
Online Digital Resources
Subject Fields: 
African History / Studies, Black History / Studies, Digital Humanities, Public History, Women's & Gender History / Studies

(Press Release, May 4, 2022): The Ohio State University has collaborated with Getty Images, a preeminent global visual content creator and marketplace, to launch Picturing Black History, a joint initiative to recontextualize and surface Black histories, providing new perspectives and shedding light on some of the most culturally significant moments of the past.

Part of Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective — published jointly by Ohio State and Miami University — Picturing Black History contributes to an ongoing public dialogue on the significance of Black history and Black life in the United States and around the world. Picturing Black History directly embraces the power of historical understanding to help reexamine visual history through digital formats, challenging the inherent biases of 200 years of photographic history.

By combining the breadth and depth of Getty Images’ archives with the renowned expertise of Origins and Ohio State’s Department of History, the project uses the power of visuals to highlight stories of oppression and resistance, perseverance and resilience, freedom dreams, imagination and joy within the United States and around the globe. To support the learning and expansion of these historical narratives, the editorial team at Picturing Black History features esteemed authors from across academia and cultural institutions matching in-depth essays with historical pictures.

“The issues of racism and Black lives have perhaps never been more urgent to our national conversation than they are right now, nor has it ever been more important to understand the history of Black America in all its complexity,” said Nicholas Breyfogle, associate professor of history at Ohio State and co-editor of Picturing Black History. “The challenge is to bring this history to wider audiences so that, with deeper understanding, we can forge a more equitable and just future. Picturing Black History and our exciting new collaboration with Getty Images strive to meet that challenge.”

“Through this collaboration with Ohio State and Origins, we have an opportunity to challenge dated narratives and help enrich our learnings of Black history,” said Bob Ahern, director of archive photography at Getty Images. “By opening up our archives, we have a chance to embrace the power of photography and the written word to revisit histories that have so often been sidelined.”

"Picturing Black History is a partnership that highlights visual imagery of Black history that is too often veiled from public view," said Damarius Johnson, another PhD student in the Department of History who is working on the project.

“What has shifted in the past few years, especially following the murder of George Floyd, is the growing urgency and hunger from all people to better understand history, to be able to make broader connections, and to situate their own lived experiences within these historical narratives,” said Daniela Edmeier, a PhD student in the Department of History who is working on the Picturing Black History project. “These narratives that are simultaneously difficult to reckon with but that are of the utmost importance to embrace truthfully and examine with critical open eyes.”

⁠To learn more about Picturing Black History, visit: https://www.picturingblackhistory.org/ and to explore photographs from Getty Images’ Archives, visit: https://www.gettyimages.com/collaboration/boards/rqjM4Ffvo0m_uPryDA5S_A.

Contact Info: 

The Picturing Black History Editorial Team is soliciting request to write from graduate students and faculty members on an ongoing basis. Interested authors should contact Co-Managing Editor Daniela Edmeier at picturingblackhistory@osu.edu.