Black History Month is Here!

February is Black History Month! Melissa’s post about our new virtual exhibit unofficially kicks off our month of blog posts honoring such an important topic.  We will focus our posts on the materials in Special Collections that highlight African Americans and their experiences. Especially as we are approaching the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre, Black History Month is as important as ever so Kelsey and I want to support its celebration with you.

The legacy of African American history can easily be overwhelmed by the horrible stain of slavery, Jim Crow, and racism, but this extraordinary community also has a vibrant tradition of family, community, and resilience in the face of such unthinkable adversity. While acknowledging the difficult elements of this legacy, I want to showcase some of the happier elements and since Valentine’s Day (Hallmark holiday that it is) is coming up rather soon, I thought it might be fun to look at couples.  These photos are most of a century old and still they are so relatable, so let’s dive into the photos!

black and white photograph of an African American couple posing for a picture These two are my favorite, maybe because they remind me so much of what my husband I look like in photos. I just love her beautiful smile and his barely-there smirk. I wonder where they were going and why they stopped to have their photo taken. I bet they were a ton of fun to be around and wish I could go back in time to meet them.

black and white photograph of a couple posing as if dancing, outside in a field and wearing nice clothing black and white photograph of an African American couple in nice clothing posing outside beside a bridgeThese two were also probably loads of fun to be around. They are stylish and look like they could be celebrating something and it would be fun to know more about them and the occasion for their pictures.

black and white photograph of an African American couple sitting outside in nice clothingblack and white photograph of an African American couple standing outside in a field wearing nice clothing and posing for a picture



This is the same woman posed with two different men. It occurred to me while I was uploading the photos that one of them could her brother, cousin, or a friend; I decided to include them both since they all look so happy. I also really like her outfit and hairstyle; I could easily take some style lessons from all the couples! How cool would it be for men to wear three-piece suits and bow ties more often? I wish I could convince my husband to dress up and pose for pictures like these!

black and white photograph of an African American couple sitting outside on a blanket with a small dog

Maybe especially since today is cold and rainy, this photo makes me want to go on a picnic when the weather warms up (just a little, though; my husband doesn’t handle the heat very well). I like seeing the newspaper scattered across their blanket; I would take a book to read for a bit and then doze off in the shade if I had a picnic. Their dog is too cute! I need to get more photos of my dogs smiling like that but I’m so glad theirs is documented for us to see all these years later. If you needed a reason to take more pictures, remember that people a hundred years from now will want to see you together with your dog!

If you’d like to see the these photographs or one of the many other collections we hold, please contact us at for arrangements. We are currently open only to TU students, faculty, and staff by appointments made at least 24 hours in advance. You are also welcome to browse our Catalog and Digital Collections and request photocopies or digital scans of materials through the same email. Kelsey and I fulfill requests as quickly as possible, but especially large requests or a high volume of requests may take us up to 4-6 weeks. We are happy to help you as best we can and we hope that you stay safe and healthy!

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