The core of the Hip Hop History Archive at Cornell University was established by Johan Kugelberg, who sought to locate and preserve the earliest artifacts he could find pertaining to the origins and influence of hip hop as music, culture, and community in the Bronx, New York City.
In 2008, Kugelberg founded the Cornell University Hip Hop History Archive, which has since grown to include other collections such as the archive of early hip hop photographer Joe Conzo, Jr, containing over 10,000 prints and negatives; the archive of Charlie Ahearn, director of Wild Style (1983), the first hip hop feature film; the archive of Ernie Paniccioli (Word Up magazine’s photographer and author of Who Shot Ya: 3 Decades of Hip Hop Photography); and “architect of hip hop,” Afrika Bambaataa.
In the archive are original paste-ups and finished flyers for performances throughout the Bronx and upper Manhattan by early hip hop groups such as Grandmaster Flash, the Cold Crush Brothers, the Treacherous Three, Kool Moe Dee, and Kool Herc. The photographs by Conzo include scenes of the South Bronx as it was in the mid-to-late 1970s, as well as portraits and performance shots of all the notable New York hip hop performers of the time. There are press packets and publicity materials for groups, performers, and labels; magazines, books, clothing, and graffiti black books.