- First edition
- Hardcover, 128 pages
- Published by Steidl, 2006
These selections from the Daniel Cowin Collection make up an extraordinary group of images of African Americans in a variety of genres and poses, including formal studio portraits, casual snapshots, images of children, images of uniformed soldiers, wedding portraits and so-called "Southern-views" made for tourist consumption, all dating from 1860 to 1960. While some of the sitters are celebrities of their day, the majority are unnamed Americans posing for their portrait. They attest to photography's ability to both record personal history for private uses and to become a document-to document history in a wider context.
The Daniel Cowin Collection, given to ICP in 1990 by its namesake, is made up of about 1600 photographs from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth, and spanning the range of commercial processes and formats-from postcards to stereographs, cartes-de- visite, tintypes, albumen prints and gelatin silver prints. Together they provide an important window into African American life during the period. African American Vernacular Photography reproduces 70 of Cowin's most exceptional color plates with essays by Brian Wallis, Director of Exhibitions and Chief Curator at the International Center of Photography, and Deborah Willis, MacArthur Fellow and author of Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers 1840 to the Present and, with Carla Williams, The Black Female Body: A Photographic History.