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Guide to the Amy Ashwood Garvey photographs, 1940s-1950s

Summary

Collection consists of 60 small black-and-white photographs dating roughly from the 1930s to the 1950s, belonging to Amy Ashwood Garvey, feminist and activist who traveled extensively and lived in West Africa, where most if not all of these images originated. The majority of the images are portraits of Amy Ashwood Garvey's many male and female acquaintances in Africa, who include female friends, politicians, heads of states, lawyers, and students. Other subjects include locales and native inhabitants of Nigeria and other unidentified places; gatherings such as meetings, a funeral, and a public hanging; and street and market scenes. Although there are photographs with inscriptions, names, and descriptions of the scenes, the majority are unlabeled; the few dates that appear are from the late 1940s. The travel snapshots are likely to have been taken by Amy Ashwood Garvey, but there are images that were sent to her by individuals as mementos, and some images of her taken by another unidentified person. Acquired by the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture.

Collection Details

Collection Number
RL.10073
Title
Amy Ashwood Garvey photographs
Date
1940s-1950s
Extent
0.1 Linear Feet, 1 box
Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Language
Materials in English

Collection Overview

Dating roughly from the 1930s to the 1950s, this collection of 60 small black-and-white photographs belonged to Amy Ashwood Garvey, feminist, activist for African and African American human rights, and first wife of Marcus Garvey. Most of the travel snapshots were likely to have been taken by her, but there are several that were clearly sent to her by individuals, and some that feature Amy Ashwood Garvey and were taken by another person. Although there are some photographs with inscriptions, names, and descriptions of the scenes, most are unlabeled; the few dates that appear are from the late 1940s.

Almost if not all the photographs were taken in Africa, where Garvey traveled and lived after her divorce with Marcus Garvey in 1922. Other locations may include Ghana and Benin. Personal subjects include portraits, candid and formal, of the many male and female friends and acquaintances of Amy Ashwood Garvey, including politicians and heads of state; and native inhabitants, including a portrait of a tribal chief with two women, probably his wives. Most are in Western dress, but some are in traditional clothing. Amy Ashwood Garvey appears in at least three of the prints, and there is a portrait of the President of Liberia, William Tubman, with whom she had a serious long-term relationship. Other images include street and market scenes; school groups; a parade, meetings and ceremonial visits; a public hanging; a funeral gathering; and views of river landings, probably the River Niger.

Acquired as part of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture at Duke University.

More Biographical / Historical Info

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How to Cite

[Identification of item], Amy Ashwood Garvey Photographs, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

People
(21 items)

A series of 52 small black-and-white photographs consisting chiefly of portraits, candid and formal, of Amy Ashwood Garvey's many friends and acquaintances in Africa - female friends, politicians and heads of state; and native inhabitants, including a portrait of a tribal chief with two women, probably his wives. Most are in Western dress, but some are in traditional clothing. The dates that appear on prints are from the 1940s. The majority are unidentified. Amy Ashwood Garvey appers in at least two of the images, one of which has several copies; one depicts a group of women on the "Shanahan" ferry at the landing (probably in Asaba, Nigeria), with Amy Ashwood Garvey in the center.

People whose names appear in captions are: William Tubman, President of Nigeria; Felix Wambu and Lawrence Payne of Nigeria; Ben K. Tamakloe; Viscount Bernard Montgomery and a "Chief Commissioner, N.P." in an unspecified location (possibly taken during the Viscount's visit to Kaduna, Nigeria, in 1947); and Gaius Ikuobase Obaseki of Benin, a member of the legislative council of Nigeria (handmade Christmas card). One individual with a diploma is identified as a "young African barrister, son of the Alaki Jay [alake?] of Abeyacouta [Abeokuta?] Nigeria."

There are numerous photographs of groups: one is entitled "Oration at the grave of Late H. Macauly" (Herbert Macaulay, Nigerian journalist and nationalist, died in 1946), and one is of a side view of a group of seated women, and is captioned "1949 Accra [Ghana]." Others include school groups, parades, and gatherings for special visitors. There is also a scene of a public hanging.

A few of the photographs bear inscriptions to Amy Ashwood Garvey, and some reveal photographer's markings. The prints measure from 2.5x2.5 to 3.25x5.25 inches and are in original order as received.

Box 1
Folder 1
Places, undated
(8 items)

Nine small black-and-white photographs feature a view of a large river, probably the River Niger, with a ferry landing; walled compounds; native dwellings; a street lined with palms; and a European-style house. The only caption in the group describes the appeal of the tree-lined street, and it is stamped "Ekpe's Photo Service." Prints measure 2.5x3.5 inches to 3.25x5.25 inches.

Box 1
Folder 1
 

Historical Note

Amy Ashwood Garvey was a feminist, activist, and founder of the Negro World newspaper. Her travels took her to many countries in West Africa, particularly Nigeria and Liberia, and she also lived for a time in Nigeria and in England. She was born in Port Antonio, Jamaica, January 10, 1897. She met American activist Marcus Garvey in Jamaica, then moved to New York City to establish with him the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in 1914. They married in 1919 and divorced in 1922. Amy Garvey also had a long-term relationshiop with William Tubman, President of Liberia. Amy Ashwood Garvey died in 1969.


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Provenance

The Amy Ashwood Garvey photographs collection was received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a purchase in 2013.

Processing Information

Processed by: Sara Reams, July 2014 Encoded by: Paula Jeannet, October 2014

Accessions described in this finding aid: 2013-0090