Van Der Zee, James, 1886–1983, American photographer, b. Lenox, Mass. The son of Ulysses S. Grant's maid and butler, Van Der Zee opened his first studio in Harlem, New York City, in 1915. For 60 years, working in obscurity, he made a visual record of Harlem life unsurpassed in scope and detail. In 1967 the Metropolitan Museum of Art discovered Van Der Zee's remaining 40,000 prints and negatives and displayed many of them in its "Harlem on My Mind" exhibit (1969).
See monograph by L. de Cock and R. McGhee (1973).