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Finding Aid to the David Johnson Photograph Archive
BANC PIC 2017.001  
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Digital exhibition prints

Scope and Content

Set of 67 oversize digitals prints, to be used for exhibition, made by The Bancroft Library from a selection of original prints from the collection. Topics include portraits, events, streets scenes and other subjects. This set, along with the corresponding original prints that were digitized, are restricted and require curatorial permission for access. An additional set of smaller format viewing prints derived from the same digital files is available for use, without restriction, in PIC box 1.
For many of these images, additional copies of the originals that were digitized are found in other series of the collection, often in multiple sizes (i.e. PIC, AX and/or B). These additional copies are identified as such and are housed in folders separate from other images in their respective series.

Digital viewing prints


Titles and dates were taken from original prints selected for digitization, and from image captions in Johnson's biography. Other titles, presented in square brackets, were devised by library curators in consultation with David Johnson at time of digitization (2017). If alternate titles and/or dates were found on other copies of the same images, these have been recorded in an accompanying note field.
PIC_box 1, item 1

Clarence, 1947


Some copies of this print are dated 1948.
PIC_box 1, item 2

Elegant lady, 1951

PIC_box 1, item 3

Johnny, 1946

PIC_box 1, item 4

Emanuel, age 18, undated

PIC_box 1, item 5

Man on skateboard, 1948

PIC_box 1, item 6

[Interior with 2 babies in baby carriage], 1948?

PIC_box 1, item 7

Dancing at a joint in Bayview, 1948


Other copies of this print have included other titles: Sock it to me; Party at Fillmore flat.
PIC_box 1, item 8

[Painter at his easel], undated

PIC_box 1, item 9

[First African-American bank teller], undated


Caption accompanying another copy of this print: First teller hired by Bank of Amer [sic; i.e. Bank of America]. Results of CORE demonstration.
PIC_box 1, item 10

Jazz Fashion, Wesley Johnson, Club Flamingo, 1948

PIC_box 1, item 11

[Man standing in doorway to dry cleaning shop], undated

PIC_box 1, item 12

Pressler Clothing, Fillmore & Geary, undated

PIC_box 1, item 13

Lucy Mae Ellis Johnson and child, 1951

PIC_box 1, item 14

Boys in Watts, weekend after riots, 1965

PIC_box 1, item 15

Boys in Watts, California, 1965?

PIC_box 1, item 16

Girl in Doorway, 1948


Another copy of this print bears different title: Girl with lunch bag, 1948.
PIC_box 1, item 17

Boy and Child, 1947


Other copies of this print are dated 1950 and 1953.
PIC_box 1, item 18

Boys and Flag, Hunters Point, undated

PIC_box 1, item 19

Girls playing hopscotch, Hunters Point, undated

PIC_box 1, item 20

Kids at Church. [Broad Street Baptist Church], 1948

PIC_box 1, item 21

Langston Hughes, 1947 or 1948?


Curator's note: Jones Methodist Church, Poetry Committee reading.
PIC_box 1, item 22

Paul Robeson at Russian Center, 1948

PIC_box 1, item 23

Nat King Cole at Fairmont Hotel, undated

PIC_box 1, item 24

W.E.B. Dubois, age 90 with wife, Shirley Graham, 1948 or 1958?


Du Bois would have been 90 in 1958, and he married Graham in 1951, so the suggested 1948 date is unlikely.
PIC_box 1, item 25

Eartha Kitt , New Orleans Swing Club, S.F., 1947

PIC_box 1, item 26

Willie Brown, first try for Assembly, 1962?

PIC_box 1, item 27

[Barbershop], undated

PIC_box 1, item 28

[Group of women], undated

PIC_box 1, item 29

[Group portrait of men behind pulpit], undated

PIC_box 1, item 30

[Group portrait of civil rights activists], 1972


Another copy of this print included an inscription written by the photographer on the back: NAACP Regional Conference, Asilomar, Calif. 1972.
PIC_box 1, item 31

Reflection in glasses, civil rights demonstration, 1963

PIC_box 1, item 32

“We demand.” Civil rights demonstration, San Francisco, 1963

PIC_box 1, item 33

Boy and Lincoln, undated

PIC_box 1, item 34

Bill Bradley of CORE at S.F. City Hall, undated

PIC_box 1, item 35

Lift Every Voice and Sing. [San Francisco City Hall], 1964

PIC_box 1, item 36

Equality, undated

PIC_box 1, item 37

Civil rights woman wearing Malcolm X button, undated

PIC_box 1, item 38

Palace Hotel, civil rights protest, 1960

PIC_box 1, item 39

Rally, S.F., CA. Palace Hotel, undated

PIC_box 1, item 40

Civil rights. [Woman holding "Coming soon” sign], undated

PIC_box 1, item 41

Cow Palace. [Woman at demonstration with sign: “The only hope for negro and white…”], 1963

PIC_box 1, item 42

Camille Howard, 1950

PIC_box 1, item 43

Bass player Vernon Alley, 1948


At least one other copy of this print is dated 1950.
PIC_box 1, item 44

Guitar player, Primalon Ballroom, 1952

PIC_box 1, item 45

Jazz singer, 1950

PIC_box 1, item 46

Jazz man Cootie Williams, Primalon Ballroom, 1950

PIC_box 1, item 47

Dancing at Primalon Ballroom, undated

PIC_box 1, item 48

Gettin' down, undated

PIC_box 1, item 49

Man singing in church, 1950


Caption found on another copy of this print: Macedonia Baptist Church choir, S.F., 1950.
PIC_box 1, item 50

[Woman standing behind pulpit], undated

PIC_box 1, item 51

Church lady, San Francisco, California, undated

PIC_box 1, item 52

[African American man speaking from pulpit], undated

PIC_box 1, item 53

Happy Couple, 1953

PIC_box 1, item 54

[Young woman addressing an audience at the YWCA], undated

PIC_box 1, item 55

Jazz, Louis Jordan, trolley, undated

PIC_box 1, item 56

Looking South on Fillmore, undated

PIC_box 1, item 57

Corner Fillmore & Geary, undated

PIC_box 1, item 58

Dollar Day, undated

PIC_box 1, item 59

Melrose Record Shop, undated

PIC_box 1, item 60

Street scene, 1947

PIC_box 1, item 61

Merry-go-round, undated

PIC_box 1, item 62

Mission District, 1947

PIC_box 1, item 63

[Advertising posters on side of building], undated

PIC_box 1, item 64

[Nude, broken mannequin in store window, after the Watts riots], 1965?

PIC_box 1, item 65

South of Market, 1953

PIC_box 1, item 66

Smiling car, undated

PIC_box 1, item 67

Johnson’s Studio, undated


Digitial exhibition prints

B_box 1

Digital exhibition prints: nos. :1-:30


For contents, see item list of Digital viewing prints.
B_box 2

Digital exhibition prints: nos. :31-:67


For contents, see item list of Digital viewing prints.

Corresponding originals

Scope and Content

Original prints from which digital images were scanned, and for which viewing prints and digital exhibition prints were printed. Item numbers correspond to items as listed under Viewing Prints in this finding aid. Mounted originals have been boxed separately from unmounted prints, so housing order is not strictly numeric.
B_box 3

Corresponding originals: unmounted

Scope and Content

Unmounted originals: nos. 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 12, 15, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 28, 30, 33, 39, 40, 46, 47, 48, 51, 55, 56, 61 and 66.
B_box 4

Corresponding originals: mounted (group 1)

Scope and Content

Mounted originals: nos. 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 13, 14, 16, 17, 20, 26, 27 and 29.
B_box 5

Corresponding originals: mounted (group 2)

Scope and Content

Mounted originals: nos. 31, 32, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 49, 50, 53, 54, 57, 59, 60, 62, 63, 64, 65 and 67.


Scope and Content

Studio portraits and other formal and informal depictions of individuals and groups. Also includes images of celebrities, including Langston Hughes, Paul Robeson, Nat King Cole, W.E.B. Dubois, Edmund G. “Pat” Brown, Eartha Kitt and Willie Brown.
For oversize prints shelved in size B, mounted and unmounted prints are shelved in separate boxes.
PIC_box 1

Portraits: smaller format prints

AX_box 1

Portraits: medium format prints

B_box 6

Portraits: larger format prints (mounted)

B_box 9

Portraits: larger format prints (unmounted)



Scope and Content

Views and scenes taken at various demonstrations, concerts, church services and other events. Highlights include civil rights demonstrations in San Francisco in the 1960s and jazz concerts at various San Francisco venues in the 1940s and 1950s. Noteworthy individuals pictured are activist Bill Bradley of CORE, singer Roland Hayes, and musicians Louis Jordan, Camille Howard, Vernon Alley and Cootie Williams. A few scenes of demonstrations may show baseball player Jackie Robinson in the background. David Johnson is present among some of the groups depicted in the series.
For oversize prints shelved in size B, mounted and unmounted prints are shelved in separate boxes.
PIC_box 2

Events: smaller format prints

AX_box 1

Events: medium format prints

B_box 7

Events: larger format prints (mounted)

B_box 9

Events: larger format prints (unmounted)


Street scenes

Scope and Content

Street scenes and other views taken in public spaces, photographed in the Fillmore District, other San Francisco locations, and elsewhere. Includes a few views taken in Watts shortly after the riots of 1965. Also includes a formal view of Johnson’s photography studio in San Francisco.
For oversize prints shelved in size B, mounted and unmounted prints are shelved in separate boxes.
PIC_box 3

Street scenes: smaller format prints

AX_box 2

Street scenes: medium format prints

B_box 8

Street scenes: larger format prints (mounted)

B_box 9

Street scenes: larger format prints (unmounted)


Other subjects

Scope and Content

Still lifes, nudes, landscapes and other subjects.
For oversize prints shelved in size B, mounted and unmounted prints are shelved in separate boxes.
PIC_box 3

Other subjects: smaller format prints

AX_box 2

Other subjects: medium format prints

B_box 8

Other subjects: larger format prints (mounted)

B_box 9

Other subjects: larger format prints (unmounted)



Scope and Content

Chiefly 35mm film negatives. Originally housed in binders, the contents of which included little or no descriptive information such as captions or dates. Binders were assigned numbers (i.e. Binder 1, Binder 2, etc.) by library staff. The binders’ contents were then rehoused, with the original order of each binder preserved as received (whether or not that order reflected a discernable intention). Each binder grouping has no apparent subject matter that differentiates it from that of another binder; each contains a variety of subjects -- i.e. portraits, events, etc. Also includes a few film transparencies.
Corresponding contact sheets for selected groups of negatives, originally filed in the same binders, were separated and are described in a different series. Among the negatives are many images not found in the contact sheets or other prints.
Binders 6 and 10 contained contact sheets only. Binders 12, 13 and 16 contained slides only. No negatives were present in these binders.
NEG_box 1 (strip)

Negatives: contents of binders 1, 2, 3 and 4.

NEG_box 2 (strip)

Negatives: contents of binders 5, 7, 8 and 9.

NEG_box 3 (strip)

Negatives: contents of binders 11, 14, 15 and 17.

NEG_box 4 (strip)

Negatives: contents of binders 18, 19, 20, 21, 23; plus miscellaneous negatives.

NEG_box 1 (4x5)

Negatives: larger format 4x5 negatives from binders 22 and 24.


Contact sheets

Scope and Content

Contact sheets originally filed with corresponding negatives in their respective binders. Similar to their corresponding negatives, the contact sheets have little descriptive information. Some contact sheets are later digital prints derived from scans of earlier negatives. Binders 6 and 10 contained contact sheets only, with no accompanying negatives, while other binders contained many groups of negatives with no corresponding contact prints.
PIC_box 3

Contact sheets



Scope and Content

A small number of 35mm slides, both color and black and white, from binders 9, 12, 13 and 16. Some slides are copy photographs of Johnson’s earlier prints, while others are camera-original slides from the 1960s to the 1980s with no corresponding prints.
LAN_box 1



Personal materials

Scope and Content

Personal photographs, personal papers, ephemera and clippings, originally received together in a single file. Photographs include portraits and snapshots of David Johnson; his wife (and author of Johnson’s biography) Jaqueline Annette “Jackie” Sue; his mentor, photographer Minor White; and various friends, associates and family members, dating from Johnson’s youth and his military service in the 1940s, if not earlier, to his retirement years. Personal papers include correspondence, printed promotional brochures and flyers, article clippings, and other material pertaining to exhibitions and other aspects of Johnson’s photography. Correspondence includes letters from friends, clients, associates and admirers, among them Langston Hughes and California Governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown. Also includes ephemera pertaining to Johnson’s biography, A Dream Begun So Long Ago; flyers containing images by Johnson; student essays on Johnson’s work; certificates; a replica button of the National March for Freedom, Washington D.C., 1963; material pertaining to Johnson’s Marin County retirement community, The Tamalpais; newspaper clippings and other articles on Johnson and his work; business cards; flyers from Johnson’s campaign for Sheriff; miscellaneous ephemera and other papers. Also includes two copies of a 2007 promotional poster featuring Johnson’s “signature print”, his 1947 portrait of a young boy named Clarence.
PIC_box 4

Personal materials: photographs and papers

AX_box 2

Personal materials: photographs and clippings

B_box 9

Personal materials: exhibition ephemera and captions

B_box 8

Personal materials: mounted exhibition caption and sign

oversize-folder --C folder 1

Personal materials: "Signature Print" poster (image of Clarence)