Getty Images recently announced an initiative that aims to uncover Black stories that are traditionally left unseen and untold. With the launch of its new Black History & Culture Collection (BHCC), the global visual media company will now provide free non-commercial access to more than 30,000 historical images that highlight the history and culture of the Black diaspora in the U.S. and the UK. Photographs in the collection date as far back as the 19th century and span all the way to the present day.
The goal of the collection is to make these rarely seen images more easily accessible to educators, academics, researchers, and content creators in order to allow them to bring to light the untold stories of Black culture and history throughout the diaspora. Getty Images also partnered with several renowned researchers, historians, and educators to thoughtfully curate the Black History & Culture Collection from its vast archive of visual content.
“Getty Images is committed to making this historical content accessible to ensure a more authentic representation of world history and drive more meaningful dialogue,” says Cassandra Illidge, vice president of partnerships at Getty Images. “This collection was curated in partnership with a roster of prestigious historians and educators with the goal of providing unfettered access to historical and contemporary imagery which will help content creators who have been seeking an inclusive visualization of history.”
Organized by decade, starting in the 1800s and extending all the way to the 2020s, this collection covers everything from military and politics to sports, culture, art, and music. While featuring intriguing images of cultural icons like the famous American singer and actress, Eartha Kitt, and snapshots of renowned agricultural scientist and inventor, George Washington Carver, the collection also extends to scenes of everyday life and depicts lesser-known Black trailblazers as well. It offers a more nuanced view of Black lives throughout history, documenting everything from their joy and triumph to their perseverance, innovation, and even their pain and struggle.
“To be involved with the Black History & Culture Collection and work so closely with reframing access to these images made a tremendous impact on me personally and professionally,” says Dr. Deborah Willis of NYU Tisch School of the Arts, one of the experts who helped curate the collection. “It offered me ways in which to guide my students’ research projects and to show how the Black History & Culture Collection is an active/useful archive that can be used by artists, scholars, families, politicians, and students to recontextualize the past and give new meaning to images that have been largely unknown or underused.”
The Black History & Culture Collection is now available to view. However, you must apply to gain full access to the images for non-commercial use. Visit Getty Images to learn more about the free collection.