everyday life: amazing photographic history of African-Americans in nebraska during jim crow..

This incredible set of antique glass negatives gives a rare glimpse into the everyday life of early 20th century African Americans and immigrants in the Midwest.

The photographic negatives are part of a wider collection of 280 photographs that capture the dignity of Lincoln, Nebraska’s minority communities from 1910-1925, with wedding and family photos, individual portraits and pictures of pets.

During that time, the New Negro Movement was moving across the country, giving African Americans a voice and an opportunity to speak for themselves in an otherwise stifled and segregated time in American history. Jim Crow laws prevented African Americans from using the same facilities or having the same opportunities that other Americans had, like jobs and housing.

Luther and Ida Allen, center, on their wedding day in 1912. Luther (1885-1969) was a prominent member of Lincoln’s Prince Hall Masons and worked as a chauffeur for the Lincoln Star newspaper publisher. Luther was also among the black leaders from Omaha and Lincoln in 1929 who met with the governor to alleviate tensions after a racial incident in North Platte. His wife Ida (1887-1983) was the daughter of Reverend George Maston and worked as a maid at the Miller and Paine store. The newlyweds are pictured at their home, 828 B Street, in Lincoln

The New Negro Movement, which preceded the Harlem Renaissance, was mostly documented in big cities, with portraits being taken in more professional studios.

But in Lincoln, African American photographer John Johnson did something different with his photographs. Instead of taking people to professional studios, Johnson met them where they were, taking portraits on front porches and inside homes.

Johnson worked as a janitor at Lincoln’s post office and courthouse, but even as an amateur, Johnson took beautiful photos that dignified and respected his family, friends and community. Today, Johnson’s photography gives a rare view into the empowerment of African Americans and immigrants across the country, not just in large cities.

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