Carl Van Vechten

1880 –

Carl Van Vechten, who is best known for his photographs of notable figures and his early enthusiasm for Harlem Renaissance writers, was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on June 17, 1880. Van Vechten graduated from the University of Chicago in 1903.

Van Vechten went to work at the New York Times from 1906–08 as a music and dance critic. He next became the newspaper’s Paris correspondent. He published three novels between 1922–26. He provided the introduction to Langston Hughes’s début poetry collection, The Weary Blues (Alfred A. Knopf, 1926). In his autobiography, Sacred and Profane Memories (Alfred A. Knopf, 1932), he declared that he would not longer write but would, instead, devote himself to photography. He later established the Carl Van Vechten collection, an archive of photos and postcards, at New York Public Library. 

Carl Van Vechten died in New York City on December 21, 1964.