A Part of History
In 1965, budding photographer Douglas Keister had no idea that he was buying a Nebraska state treasure. As far as he knew, the 280 glass-plate negatives bought at a garage sale, mainly of African American subjects, were just interesting images from Lincoln, Nebraska, between 1910 and 1925.
The images were unusual, he says, because the population of African Americans in Lincoln was “quite small” and because the subjects suggested a black photographer, uncommon for the time. And these were environmental portraits, not the typical studio shots. “These were pictures of people where they lived, giving us an incredible amount of information,” says Keister, now based in Chico.
In 1999, 36 similar glass negatives were discovered in Lincoln. Keister contacted the Nebraska State Historical Society about his own collection—soon identified as the work of African American photographer John Johnson and declared a state treasure.
CSU, Chico hosted the first public exhibition of Keister’s collection, called Black and White in Black and White, as part of the campus’s Black History Month celebration. The Smithsonian Institution has requested 30 to 50 of the images for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, under construction in Washington, D.C.
CONCANNON (BS, Business Administration, ’85) is a fourth-generation vintner at Concannon Vineyard.
(BS, Business Administration, ’94) is the human resources manager for the News & Review, headquartered in Sacramento.
(BS, Business Administration, ’87) is executive vice president and chief financial officer of Epicor Software Corporation.