This collection includes a selection of images from the John W. Mosley Collection, which documents African American life in and around Philadelphia. Housed in the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, Temple University Libraries, it is a significant and extraordinary regional history collection, documenting virtually every social, cultural, and political aspect of life in the African American community during the mid-20th century.
John W. Mosley (1907-1969) was a Philadelphia-area African American photographer whose images appeared in African American newspapers throughout the eastern United States. As a witness and chronicler of the many changes in politics, culture, sports and fashion from the late 1930s to the late 1960s, he photographed many prominent figures in the African American community. His subjects included Marian Anderson, Martin Luther King, Jr., Paul Robeson, Cab Calloway, W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, players of the Negro Baseball League, and many others. Mosley was born in Lumberton, North Carolina, and attended Johnson C. Smith College in Charlotte. His father was a Baptist minister and also worked as a barber. Mosley's interest in photography began in the 1920s, and, when he moved to Philadelphia in 1934, he was hired at the Barksdale Photography Studio. Many of his photographs were taken in Philadelphia and Atlantic City, but he also worked in New York, Baltimore, and Washington D.C.
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