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Jack T. Franklin Collection
Jack T. Franklin (1922-2009) donated his collection of over 500,000 negatives and photographs to the African American Museum in Philadelphia in 1986. The collection is a significant and extraordinary local history comprising virtually every social, cultural and political event in Philadelphia’s African American community during his lifetime, as well as all of the major events of the 1960s Civil Rights movement.
Selma to Montgomery March, 1965: Marchers sing “We Shall Overcome”; behind the children, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife, Coretta. (Jack T. Franklin Collection, 1986.1.79, African American Museum in Philadelphia)
For the next forty years, he photographed political and social movements, including rallies, protest marches, and leaders of the Civil Rights Movement in Philadelphia, as well as in the south, becoming a major figure in photojournalism. The Jack Franklin Civil Rights Era Collection includes: the 1963 March on Washington; the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March; the 1968 Poor People’s March; as well as local political events, such as: the 1965 Girard College Protests, led by lawyer and President of the local chapter of the NAACP Cecil B. Moore, against the discriminatory policy of Girard College; the first major Black Power Rally, held in Philadelphia in 1966; and political rallies and events with guest speakers such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Jesse Jackson and Stokely Carmichael, among others.
Throughout his career, Franklin photographed many notables including Thurgood Marshall, Cassius Clay (aka Muhammad Ali), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King, Malcolm X, Sidney Poitier, Julie and Harry Belafonte, James Baldwin, Rev. Leon Sullivan, Sammy Davis, Jr., Lena Horne, as well as Presidents Johnson, Nixon and Ford and Senator Robert F. Kennedy. He photographed many performers at the State and Uptown Theaters in Philadelphia, as well as other area venues, including Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Patti LaBelle, Stevie Wonder, Sam Cooke, The Jackson 5, Nat King Cole, Josephine Baker, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, The Dixie Hummingbirds and The Ward Singers.
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Philadelphia Civic Center Museum Collection
In 2003, The African American Museum in Philadelphia acquired a gift of over 400 African artifacts from the Philadelphia Civic Center Museum (formerly known as the Philadelphia Commercial Museum). This acquisition more than doubled the number of African artifacts in AAMP’s Collection. The majority of the objects had been exhibited in the Paris International Exposition of 1900 and the French Colonial Exposition of 1889, including weapons, tools, ceremonial objects, textiles, household goods and musical instruments from Western Africa—particularly Liberia, Senegal and Guinea. Many of the West African objects AAMP acquired are wood-carved, including bowls; musical instruments, tools, and stools. In addition to the artifacts from West Africa, the collection contains a small selection from Tunisia, including jewelry, leather footwear, harnesses, cushions, and trays. The North African objects of the Civic Center Museum were acquired chiefly from the Berlin and Vienna Ethnological Museums in the 19th century.
African drum: carved wood, leather, animal hide; probably a "Tamtam de Pimbawas" from Senegal, Africa. It is carried by a strap or chain which is slung around the neck of the player; used for functional purposes and for dances. (Civic Center Museum Collection, 2010.1.180, African American Museum in Philadelphia)
Philadelphia Commercial Museum: view in African collection showing handicraft; ivory, ostrich feathers, etc. [caption taken from label with photograph]; from a photo scrapbook of the Philadelphia Commercial Museum, taken circa 1910.
History of the Philadelphia Commercial Museum/Civic Center Museum
The Philadelphia Commercial Museum opened in 1897 at 34th and Spruce Streets, and was the first institution in the United States to actively promote America's businesses and industries in foreign markets, and especially in the emerging markets of Africa, Asia and Central America. The idea for the Commercial Museum came from University of Pennsylvania botany professor Dr. William Wilson, who was inspired by his visit to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. Wilson purchased much of the objects in order to fashion a permanent world’s fair exposition in Philadelphia. Soon the Commercial Museum became the unofficial repository for artifacts from world’s fairs and by the early twentieth century was among the biggest museum of any kind in the nation and became a destination not just for businesses, but for school groups, locals and tourists as well.
The preservation, cataloguing and re-housing of the Jack T. Franklin Collection and the Civic Center Museum Collection was made possible with funding from “Save America’s Treasures”, administered by the National Park Service in partnership with the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
To view the Jack T. Franklin and Civic Center Museum Collections, please scroll down to the link for AAMP’s Collections (highlighted in red) and enter the keyword(s) “Franklin” or “Civic Center”.
Permission to publish or quote from unpublished manuscripts or from published items under copyright, must first be obtained from the copyright holder. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure that permission. In many instances, contact information can be provided for copyright holders or donors. Additionally, permission to quote from manuscripts must be obtained.
Requests should be sent to Collections@aampmuseum.org or The African American Museum in Philadelphia, Collections Department, 701 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA 19106.
To see AAMP's Collections go to http://aampmuseum.pastperfect-online.com
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Save Americas Treasures
The African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) has been awarded a $150,000 grant from Save America’s Treasures to preserve its extensive photographic and film-based collections. Save America’s Treasures received 402 applications and from these applications, 41 grants were awarded to projects that addressed the most urgent preservation needs and were deemed most significant to the nation. According to First Lady Michelle Obama, Honorary Chairman of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, “Save America's Treasures invests in our nation's irreplaceable legacy of buildings, documents, collections and artistic works. These awards empower communities all over the country to rescue and restore this priceless heritage, and ensure that future generations continue to learn from the voices, ideas, events and people represented by these projects.”
AAMP owns significant sound and photographic holdings including the complete archives of Jack T. Franklin, Pearl Bailey’s personal photographs and recordings, and Negro League photographs from the Cash/Thompson Collection. These images represent several hundred in a collection that is estimated to be several hundred thousand. To date AAMP’s sound and photographic collections have been largely inaccessible to the public.
The Save America’s Treasures funds will enable better preservation of these collections, as well as increased public access. The Museum will be able to purchase new collections management software and provide internet access to a portion of the collection. At the conclusion of this project some of the most highly requested images will be available to the public. Greater access will also promote cooperation and collaboration with other museums, scholars and researchers.
The initiatives funded by the Save America’s Treasures grant are just the beginning of an anticipated larger digitization program. In the next seven years, AAMP’s ultimate goal is to catalogue and digitize the collection in order to preserve this valuable information and to maximize public accessibility.
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AAMP Collections Database
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