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August 3, 2010

Colonial Williamsburg’s John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library Acquires Additional Albert Durant Photographs

The Special Collections Department of Colonial Williamsburg’s John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library has acquired additional photographs to augment the Albert Durant Photography Collection.

Durant’s photos document the daily life of African Americans in Williamsburg, as well as Isle of Wight County and Newport News, from the late 1930s to the 1960s. An extensive collection of his photos, numbering close to 10,000 items, was purchased by the library in 1992. These additional photos provide a further glimpse into school activities, clubs and events within the African American community.

Since many of the individuals in the photographs are unidentified, longtime Williamsburg residents are encouraged to make an appointment to view the pictures and help with identifications. Appointments may be scheduled by contacting the visual resources librarian Marianne Martin at (757) 565-8542 or [email protected]

Albert Durant, the first licensed African American photographer in Williamsburg, combined his love of photography with a local chauffeuring business. He also acted as the first African American justice of the peace and bail commissioner in Williamsburg.

Durant’s daughter, Yvette Durant, recently discovered the additional photos while sorting through her mother’s personal items. She contacted the library with the intent of uniting the photos with the rest of the collection.

The collection addition consists of several photo albums and a small number of individual photographs. Highlights include photos of students outside the James City County Training School and residents in the African American neighborhood once located near the intersection of Nicholson and Botetourt Streets. Many photos also document recreational activities, such as trips to the beach or the James River. Several photos portray young African American men in JCH basketball jerseys.

The Albert Durant Photography Collection at the Rockefeller Library can be viewed by appointment by calling visual resources librarian Marianne Martin at (757) 565-8542 or [email protected]

Colonial Williamsburg’s John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library is committed to advancing knowledge of colonial British America, the American Revolution and the early United States. Through a specialized collection of books, journals, manuscripts, visual resources and online services, linked with fellowship and conference programs, the library supports and encourages research in 17th- and 18th-century colonial America, the Revolutionary War era and the early republic. The library serves scholars, advanced students, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation staff and the public. The Rockefeller Library is open to the public 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational and cultural organization dedicated to the preservation, interpretation and presentation of the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia. This town-sized living history museum tells the inspirational stories of our journey to become Americans through programs in the Historic Area and through the award-winning Revolutionary City program.

Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s website at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121