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Harlem: The Vision of Morgan and Marvin Smith (SIGNED)

Smith, Morgan; Marvin Smith; Gordon Parks Sr.; James A. Miller

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ISBN 10: 0813120292 / ISBN 13: 9780813120294
Published by The University Press of Kentucky, 1997
Condition: Near Fine Hardcover
From W. Lamm (Los Angeles, CA, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

SIGNED and inscribed on title page by Marvin Smith. Illustrated with nearly 150 photographs by twin brothers Morgan and Marvin Smith. Foreword by Gordon Parks Sr. Introduction by James A. Miller. ; Tight, clean and crisp. A faint hint of shelf wear to dustjacket, otherwise an excellent copy now protected in a new Mylar cover. No remainder mark. Not price clipped. Not ex-library. ; Folio; 184 pages; Signed by Author. Bookseller Inventory # 11914

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Harlem: The Vision of Morgan and Marvin ...

Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky

Publication Date: 1997

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition:Near Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Near Fine

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: First Edition; First Printing.

About this title


In 1933, Morgan and Marvin Smith, twin sons of sharecroppers from Kentucky, arrived in Harlem. Despite the hardships of the Great Depression, they found a flourishing arts community and quickly established their place as visual chroniclers of the life of the city. For thirty years, the Smiths used their cameras to record the achievements of blacks in the face of poverty and discrimination. Rejecting the focus on misery and hopelessness common to Harlem photographers of the time, they documented important "firsts" for the city's blacks (the first black policeman, the first black women juror), the significant social movements of their day (anti-lynching protests, rent strikes, and early civil rights rallies), as well as the everyday life of Harlem, from churchgoers dressed for Easter to children playing in the street. The Smiths' photography and art studio was next to the famed Apollo Theatre, and it became a required stop for anyone making a pilgrimage to the community. There and elsewhere the Smiths photographed actors, musicians, dancers, artists, athletes, politicians, businessmen, and educators. They captured Maya Angelou early in her career as a Primus dancer, W.E.B. DuBois recording a speech in their sound studio, Joe Louis at his training camp, Jackie Robinson teaching his young son to hold a baseball bat, Nat King Cole dancing at his wedding, Billie Holiday singing for friends, Josephine Baker distributing candy to children, and many other prominent figures at significant and ordinary moments of their lives. Drawn from the collection of the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Smith family archives, Harlem reproduces nearly 150 photographs by these important artists and chroniclers, bringing to life a vital community of great cultural, political, and economic achievement. Morgan Smith died in 1993. Marvin Smith died in 2003.


In chronicling the daily life in Harlem during the '30s and '40s, brothers Morgan and Marvin Smith capture the spirit of a community. The two left Kentucky for New York City in 1933 with a journalist's sense of what is important and an artist's eyes with which to capture it. The brothers' cameras lit upon children playing in the streets and couples dancing the Lindy, as well as famous Harlem dwellers such as Billie Holiday, Fats Waller, and a young Maya Angelou. But, more importantly, the Morgans documented critical firsts for the African American community: Harlem's first postal telegram messengers; Virginia Pope, the first African American juror to serve in New York City; and Thurgood Marshall, the first African American United States Supreme Court justice. The body of their work tells the story of a community flourishing both culturally and spiritually, despite the challenges of social injustice and poverty. And the Morgans became so intertwined with Harlem itself that their studio, located next door to the Apollo Theater, became a necessary stopping point for anyone visiting the area.

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