The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin, has added to its collection the photographic archive of Stephen Shames. Known for capturing political and social activism over his 50 year career, Shames was the Black Panther Party’s photographer from 1967 to 1973.
“As a young man I was privileged to have inside access to the Black Panther Party, ” Shames said in a statement. “Later, as a photojournalist and artist I traveled the world and embedded myself in the lives of many living on the edges of society. I hope students and scholars can use these archives to enter worlds they cannot see in person, but can experience through historic photography. I learned a great deal from the people I photographed. I hope others can expand their knowledge and understanding of our world through my work.”
While he was a student at University of California, Berkeley, Shames began his career as a photojournalist by covering Bay Area protests, and he met Bobby Seale, the co-founder of the Black Panther Party, at an anti-Vietnam War demonstration in 1967. Shames went on to document the Party’s public and private moments, including scenes from protests, strategy meetings, and Panther schools.
“Shames has used his camera to document the intimate histories of a wide range of subjects, including black political activism in the Bay Area, everyday life in New York City, and child poverty across America,” Don Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center, said in a statement. “His archive will not only be preserved here at the center, it will be actively utilized in our mission to foster exploration of the American past, which is why a selection of his work prints is currently on display in the center’s exhibit hall.”