The collection (ca. 1910s to mid-1970s) depicts various forms of discrimination against African Americans in public spaces, public accommodations, businesses, schools and at work sites, and efforts to racially integrate these places, mainly from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s. The collection consists of portraits and candid views of students who were either victims of discrimination or who participated in civil rights activities (late 1940s-1950s); views of oil refinery workers at a segregated work site; views of segregated transit services and facilities (1940s-1950s); views and portraits of segregationist politicians and officials; views of local businesses, public spaces and facilities displaying "Jim Crow" signage (1940s-early 1950s); views of court-ordered school busing (1960s-mid-1970s); and views of integrated classrooms and school facilities (late 1940s-1960s). Some views of protesters and civil rights activists are included. Portraits of civil rights figures may be found in the Portrait Collection; views of protest activities may also be found in Demonstrations.
Of note is a series of views of "Jim Crow" signs, designating racially segregated recreation areas, housing and businesses, photographed by John Vachon (1951); views of "whites only" areas at a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, oil refinery (n.d.); portraits of 20th century United States senators from the Southern states who were segregationists; and a combination photograph of portraits of the Little Rock Nine students (1957).