Rich representation of the African American community in San Francisco, particularly the Fillmore District, from the post-World
War II era to the Civil Rights movement.
David Johnson was born August 3, 1926 in Jacksonville, Florida. He acquired his first camera at age 14 and soon thereafter
aspired to be a professional photographer. Drafted into the U.S. Navy in 1944, he served in the Philippines for the remainder
of World War II. Prior to his time in the Pacific Islands, Johnson was stationed in San Francisco and developed an intense
attraction to the city. After the war, Johnson departed Florida upon his acceptance into Ansel Adams’ first class in the new
Department of Photography at San Francisco’s California School of Fine Arts, becoming the master photographer’s first African
American student. Johnson lived briefly with Adams, and was mentored by Minor White, another teacher at the school. After
moving to the African American neighborhood of San Francisco’s Fillmore District, Johnson was encouraged by Adams and White
to document his local community. In the early 1950s Johnson established a photography studio on Fillmore Street. For the next
two decades he developed a body of work strongly influenced by the people and events of his community and the broader social
and political issues of his times, including much portraiture and documentation of demonstrations, concerts, political campaigns,
streets scenes and other aspects of San Francisco’s African American community and the local and national civil rights struggles
of the era. In the early 2000s Johnson’s work from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s began to be revived and exhibited in various
local venues, with much critical and popular success. The City of San Francisco honored Johnson’s contribution to the cultural
heritage of his community by including his name among those engraved in Gene Suttle Plaza on Fillmore Street. Johnson’s memoir,
A Dream Begun So Long Ago, was written by his second wife, Jacqueline Annette Sue, and published in 2012.
in 21 boxes and 1 oversize folder
: chiefly film negatives, gelatin silver prints and film transparencies
; sheets various sizes
Some materials in these collections may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). Copyright for material
created by David Johnson has been assigned to the University of California Regents, managed by The Bancroft Library. In addition,
the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor
restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected
by copyright 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 owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively
with the user.
Collection is open for research. Digital exhibition prints and their accompanying originals are restricted. Negatives and
slides are available by appointment only. See library's online catalog record for details.