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James Van Der Zee Photographs

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MRC
Date: 15 Jan 2020

Biographical History

James Van Der Zee (1886-1983) was an African-American photographer and a leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance. A talented pianist and violinist as well as photographer, he is best known for his portraits of black New Yorkers, particularly authors, poets, musicians, and others in the arts. His work is admired both for its artistic merit and for its value in documenting the period.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The James Van Der Zee Photographs consists of silver gelatin prints of African American New Yorkers, in particular musicians.

Arrangement of the Collection

No particular order.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advance notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Van Der Zee, James, 1886-1983.

Corporate Bodies

Clef Club (New York, N.Y.)


African American musicians -- New York (State)
African American musicians -- Portraits.
African American photographers.


New York (N.Y.)

Genres and Forms

Gelatin silver prints.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

James Van Der Zee Photographs,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Purchase, 2019.

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