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Finding Aid for the George P. Johnson Negro Film Collection, 1916-1977
1042  
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Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: George P. Johnson Negro Film Collection,
    Date (inclusive): 1916-1977
    Collection number: 1042
    Creator: Johnson, George P., 1885-1977
    Extent: 71 boxes
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Abstract: George Perry Johnson (1885-1977) was a writer, producer, and distributor for the Lincoln Motion Picture Company (1916-23). After the company closed, he established and ran the Pacific Coast News Bureau for the dissemination of Negro news of national importance (1923-27). He started the Negro in film collection about the time he started working for Lincoln. The collection consists of newspaper clippings, photographs, publicity material, posters, correspondence, and business records related to early Black film companies, Black films, films with Black casts, and Black musicians, sports figures and entertainers.
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Copyright to portions of this collection has been assigned to the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections. The library can grant permission to publish for materials to which it holds the copyright. All requests for permission to publish or quote must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian, Department of Special Collections.] Credit shall be given as follows: [c in circle] The Regents of the University of California on behalf of the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections.

    Restrictions on Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Advance notice required for access.
    Portions of the collection available on microfilm (12 reels) in the Department of Special Collections. Originals of boxes 1-47 not available for consultation due to fragile condition.

    Additional Physical Form Available

    A copy of the original version of this online finding aid is available at the UCLA Department of Special Collections for in-house consultation and may be obtained for a fee. Please contact:
    • Public Services Division
    • UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections
    • Room A1713, Charles E. Young Research Library
    • Box 951575
    • Los Angeles, CA 90095-1575
    • Telephone: 310/825-4988 (10:00 a.m. - 4:45 p.m., Pacific Time)
    • Email: spec-coll@library.ucla.edu

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    • George P. Johnson, purchase and gift, 1968-71.
    • Gift of Charles Caballero, 1992.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], George P. Johnson Negro Film Collection (Collection 1042). Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

    Biography

    George Perry Johnson was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, October 29, 1885; after his graduation from the Hampton Institute, Virginia (1904), he settled in Tulsa, Oklahoma and started the first Negro paper in the territory, The Tulsa Guide (June 9, 1906); moved to Omaha, Nebraska (1913) and was the first Negro employee at the U.S. Post Office in that city; he eventually moved to Los Angeles and continued working for the post office while he worked as a writer, producer, and distributor for the Lincoln Motion Picture Company (1916-23); after the company closed, he established and ran the Pacific Coast News Bureau for the dissemination of Negro news of national importance (1923-27); he started the Negro in film collection about the time he started working for Lincoln; he died October 17, 1977.

    Scope and Content

    Collection consists primarily of material related to the Lincoln Motion Picture Company, Johnson's brother, Noble Johnson, Oscar Micheaux, and the Oscar Micheaux Film and Book Company. Includes newspaper clippings, photographs, publicity material, posters, correspondence, and business records. Also includes materials related to early Black film companies, Black films, and films with Black casts, and Black musicians, sports figures, and entertainers. Also contains personal papers of George P. Johnson.

    Expanded Scope and Content

    The George P. Johnson Negro Film Collection was assembled over a period of more than fifty years by one of the industry's pioneer producers and distributors of Black films. It contains newspaper clippings, photographs, publicity materials, posters, and, in some instances, correspondence and business records of early Black film companies. Mr. Johnson often added his own remembered information about films or performers, typing this information on slips of paper or cards.
    The collection has its greatest depth in material relating to Mr. Johnson's own Lincoln Motion Picture Company, to Noble Johnson who was George P. Johnson's brother, and to Oscar Micheaux and the Oscar Micheaux Film and Book Company whose moving pictures Johnson distributed. It also has hard-to-find material on Black musicians, sports figures, entertainers, and on Black films and on Black films and film companies and films with Black casts.
    The register for the collection is a card file (shelf list) which is divided into two alphabets, one for personal names and one for films and film companies. This brings together films made by the Lincoln Motion Picture Company. All of the films in which Oscar Micheaux appeared are brought together under his name. There is no indication of how much material will be found for an entry. It may be anything from a single clipping to several folders full of material.
    The collection has been microfilmed. Positive microfilm is available for use in the reading room.
    Revised October 1995

    Organization and Arrangement

    Arranged in the following series:
    1. Research files (Boxes 1-47).
    2. Newspapers and magazines (Boxes 48-50, 70).
    3. Films and videotape (Boxes 51, 53, 63).
    4. Personal papers, photographs & negatives, magazines, books, files of Lincoln Motion Picture Company (Boxes 51-69).
    5. Posters (Oversize folder 71).

    Note

    * An Asterisk indicates that within these frames one will find biographical information concerning a performer and a list of his or her films. For example, Dorothy Dandridge's main entry is between frame numbers 275-358 *. For additional information concerning her life it would also be worthwhile to check information on each of her films. Information concerning each film is listed under the film's title.

    Expanded Organization and Arrangement

    The following statement appears at the beginning of each reel of microfilm of the George P. Johnson Collection:
    George P. Johnson who started in the motion picture industry in 1961 as General Booking Manager for Lincoln Motion Picture Company, has assembled a collection primarily of ephemeral materials - correspondence, playbills, newspaper clippings, advertisement materials, photographs relating to Blacks in all fields of entertainment, sports and the arts. Its major strength is in the area of motion pictures. It contains records of films made by Blacks, films in which Blacks appeared, films with all Black casts, Black motion picture houses, booking agencies, music publishers, magazines and similar related subjects.
    Mr. Johnson's materials revealing the history of the Lincoln Motion Picture Company are the highlight of the collection. Correspondence and other manuscripts focus on the problems, politics, psychological conflicts, deals, business failures, promotional techniques, and financial solicitations of the company and depict how this black enterprise managed to exist from 1916 to 1923. Information concerning the company itself is found throughout the collection, with concentrations of material found under the following headings. (see Index for reel and frame numbers.):
    • Birth of a Race (film)
    • Brooks, Clarence
    • Dudley, S.H.
    • Film Production Companies
    • Foster, William
    • Gant, Harry
    • Ireland, Thomas D.
    • Johnson, George
    • Johnson, Noble
    • Levy Robert
    • Lincoln Motion Picture Company
    • Micheaux, Oscar
    • Smith, James Rodney
    • Teycer, B.L.
    • Turpin, Charles H.
    • Vann, Robert
    Some names and events are not listed separately in the index itself, but are included within certain broad headings listed below. Check this special list of headings for possible leads to additional information on related subjects. Reel and frame numbers are located in the index under the following headings:
    • Academy Awards
    • Actors Replaced by Other Actors
    • Afro-American Film Exhibitors
    • Black Film Theatres
    • Black Man in Films
    • Black Musicians' Union
    • Casting
    • Colored Americans War Film
    • Colored and Indian Film
    • Colored Champions of Sport
    • Comedians
    • Entertainers, Negro
    • Federal Theatre Project
    • Film Production Companies
    • Footlite Magazine
    • Harlem
    • Hollywood Maids
    • Hollywood Productions
    • Sambo Comedies
    • Lincoln Motion Picture Company
    • List of White & Black Companies Producing Black Films
    • Motion Picture Industry
    • Moving Picture Film Companies
    • Moving Picture Film History
    • Music Score Arrangers, Writers
    • Negro
    • Actors
    • Authors
    • Book Dealers
    • Boxers
    • Comedy Films
    • History
    • In Moving Pictures
    • In Radio
    • In Television
    • Newspapers
    • Theatre
    • Theatres
    • Westerns
    • 100 years of Negro Entertainment, an Ebony article.
    • Outlet - a Western Monthly
    • Pacific News Bureau
    • Racism & Entertainment
    • Theatrical Booking Agencies
    • Unions
    • Vaudeville Stars
    • War Films

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Johnson, George P., 1885-1977--Archives.
    Johnson, Noble, b. 1897.
    Micheaux, Oscar, 1884-1951.
    Lincoln Motion Picture Company.
    Micheaux Film Corporation.
    African Americans in the motion picture industry.
    African Americans in motion pictures.

    Related Material

    Collector of Negro film history [oral history transcript] / George P. Johnson, interviewee. UCLA Oral History Department interview, 1970. Available at Department of Special Collections, UCLA.