Greetings from Michèle-Louise,
La Bonne Vivante

loresblkwhitecrop Hello,  and welcome to our collection of original African American cultural artifacts, lovingly rescued from estate sales and auctions around the country.

We offer several artifactual genres.

Our antique image offerings range predominately from the 1800s to the 1940s. There are photos of African American families, church groups, children, couples. There is professional portraiture; there are many vernacular and “found” photographs. There are cabinet card photos, RPPCs, cartes de visite, and tintypes. African Americans, from myriad locales, rural and urban, are always the focal point.

This eclectic and fluid  photograph collection features all manner of African Americans -- worshiping, recreating, child-rearing, marrying, mourning—engaging in the full gamut of life experiences.

The photos contain many hints with regard to times, places, genealogy, names, and the like. Many contain inscriptions or photographer’s marks. Others contain first and or last names.

Our ephemera-memorabilia offerings include artifacts such as programs, diaries, scrapbooks, sheet music, posters, advertisements, letters, diplomas, and legal documents.  These items lend dimension to the collection.

Our digital services, which include creation of personalized photographic-musical retrospectives and digital antique images for various uses, make access to and preservation of cultural artifacts possible for a diverse range of people.

We create customized exhibits, offer live presentations and seminars, and facilitate group discussions on the significance and societal impacts of African American cultural artifacts, with emphasis on photographs.

Persons interested in African American history and genealogy, particularly persons with roots in the areas from which these artifacts have come, may, as they peruse this collection, see familiar places or faces.    If you are interested in the origins of a particular item, do ask us what we know about the history surrounding it...we will delight in telling you! 

Our proudest achievement to date has been the identification and location of the African American people featured in a large collection of “found” photographs, memorabilia and ephemera.  We joyfully returned the photos home to their Princeton, New Jersey family. Read the full story below, as told by Shirley Satterfield, a Princeton community historian and member of the “lost” photos’ family.

We are here to serve you and to help facilitate, through our collection, enhanced understanding and broadened perspectives of the African American Diaspora.

This is an outstanding, ever changing, and unusual collection offering many rare items, so look and enjoy!

Cordially yours,

Michèle-Louise Ridley Cook
La Bonne Vivante

Building Bridges: A Story of Family Photos Lost, Found, and Returned Home

     "One of the most endearing and treasured components of a family is to have and proudly display photographs of loved ones. Whether parents, children, relatives and/or family friends, pictures provide a history of family members, events and places that cannot be captured in any other medium. It is especially exciting to discover a series of family pictures of relatives many generations later. That is what I experienced when I opened an e-mail message from a neighbor who included several pictures of my relatives! My excitement, bewilderment and shock over the recognition of so many people in those pictures led me to inquire as to how he got those photographs.

     It was at that time that I was introduced to Michele Cook who, through her research and study of heritage family photographs, had found over 100 pictures that had belonged to my cousin. There were pictures of her from childhood through her life as a daughter, wife, student, teacher and community and state volunteer. So many photographs of my family members, historical places in Princeton and pictures of my mother and her siblings when they were children.  Those brought joy and memories to my mother when she saw them for the first time. I am grateful that through Michele's research to find a family member who would cherish and appreciate these pictures, her care in preserving the photographs, sending the originals and making a CD of each I now have a history of my family that I had never seen before.

     As a community historian in Princeton, I have been able to show an historical landmark to people I take on tours of the African American Community in Princeton and the Historical Society of Princeton has one of the pictures on display for an exhibit of life in the 1930's in Princeton. My family has enjoyed seeing pictures of our relatives and to witness the life of a woman who was respected not only in Princeton but also throughout New Jersey. I owe a great deal of gratitude to Michele Cook for her research, determination to find a home for the pictures and her care for the preservation of one's family history."