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The John A. Kouns Collection is the life work of social justice photographer John Alexander Kouns. The collection documents the Farmworkers Movement in California and the Civil Rights Movement nationally. It also consists of images from peace and protest movements as well as the senior commmunity in the San Francisco Bay Area and North Bay. A small portion of the collection contains personal materials that date from 1884, as well as freelance industrial and sports photography. A majority of the collection consists of photographic prints, negatives, slides, clippings, ephemera, and audiovisual materials with bulk dates spanning the 1950s to the 2000s.
John Alexander Kouns was a professional photographer who centered much of his work around social justice movements like the United Farm Workers and Civil Rights Movements. He was born to Lucille and Augustus Honshall Kouns in Alameda, California in 1929. Kouns grew up in the Santa Clara Valley, where he picked prunes at the age of twelve and became a member of the United Steelworkers Union at the age of sixteen. After reading Richard Wright's novel Native Son, Kouns joined the NAACP at the age of fifteen. He attended San Jose State College for two years studying physical education and photography until he was drafted into the navy in 1951. Kouns trained in aerial photography at the Naval School in Pensacola, Florida. Of segregation in the South, he said, "[it was] surreal, unjust, and inhumane," and it sparked a life-long interest in documenting and supporting social justice movements. He served a 2-year tour of duty during the Korean War taking aerial photography in Japan. After the war, he completed his degree in Physical Education at San Jose State in 1955.
82.97 linear feet
Copyright for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection has been transferred to California State University, Northridge. Copyright status for other materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
This collection is open for research use.