The end of the year seems a good time for me to post some updates to my previous series of posts on Researching Photographers Working in the South.
North Carolina; Virginia; West Virginia – The wonderful Hugh Mangum Photographs reside on the Duke University Digital Collections website. Mangum (1877-1922), an itinerant photographer who rode the train to the towns in North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia, was originally from Durham, NC. He made portraits of both black and white people in all three states at the turn of the twentieth century.
The collection consists of about 688 negatives dating from the early 1890s through 1922. Read more about the collection, and about the photographer, who eventually became a partner in various Virginia studios, here
You will also notice a film here on the Mangum photographs, made by Tom Ferguson of Duke University, with Exhibit commentary by Duke visual materials archivist Karen Glynn.
Virginia – Another example of a white photographer who photographed African Americans, in the same respectful way he did his white patrons, is Rufus Holsinger (1866-1930) of Charlottesville, Virginia. His photographs depict life in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, from before the turn-of-the century through World War I. In the 1930s his son Ralph joined him, and Ralph carried on the work of the studio into the late 1970s.
Rufus Holsinger’s 10,000 glass plates are online on the University of Virginia Library catalog website, VIRGO. The collection itself is Accession #9862, and it resides in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library of UVA. The initial Finding Aid is here http://tinyurl.com/okedftj You can read about the collection at http://www.lib.virginia.edu/speccol/collections/s/
An exhibit of Holsinger’s photographs of African Americans is planned for 2016. Here is a link to only those images of Holsinger’s African American clients: http://tinyurl.com/q95t7dd
I have found that Magnum and Holsinger were not unique in having African American clients visit their place of business (whether a photo tent, a photo train car, or a photo studio). I know this to be the case with the work of several white photographers in Georgia during this same period, from just before the turn-of-the-century into the early 20th century. It seems true of other photographers, at that time, in other states, too, but in at least one case in Georgia, the opposite is also true.
My favorite African American itinerant photographer in Georgia, F. P. Pepper, also photographed both white and black citizens of sixteen cities and towns in rural Georgia, from at least 1884 to 1911. He is the only black itinerant I have documented thus far, and this very active itinerant photographer had a very good reputation. Read more about him in my prior post at http://tinyurl.com/knekl5v
Since writing that post, I finally came into possession of an original Pepper cabinet card. It is not a great image but I like his stamped backmark, which unfortunately is rather pale on my card. Albany, where he was a resident for a time, is the only city he worked which is noted on any of his photographs, otherwise it was simply “F. P. Pepper, Photo Artist.”
Backmark of a cabinet card by F.P. Pepper, ca. 1900; collection of E. Lee Eltzroth
Florida – A photographer named Vansickel, who worked in Gainesville, Florida, also had both black and white patrons visit his studio. The Alachua County Library District Heritage Collection has a selection of this photographer’s work at http://tinyurl.com/q53obgh
Other photographs of African Americans by Vansickel reside on the Flickr Florida Memory site, and other sites you will find on the web.
Most of this photographer’s images seem to be marked “Vansickel, Gainesville Florida”; one I located is dated 1861, but this is a reproduction of an older image made by him for a customer. I found a 1917 advertisement in a photo journal for “Vansickel Bros./Vansickel is THE photographer in Gainesville.”
I had to do a bit of census research to come up with a full name and birth and death dates for him. William Milton Van Sickel (1870-1929) worked in Gainesville as a photographer from at least 1910 until his death or shortly before. He was born in Ohio, and he was working as a photographer there in 1900, which means he moved to Florida after 1900 and before 1910. Newspaper research is in order, you Florida photography fans!
While searching for biographical information on “Vansickel” I found an entry for a photographer named Elmer Harvey Bone, born in Ohio (this caught my eye because we may be related). Bone moved to Gainesville, Florida in 1925 and became a partner in “Van Sickel & Bone,” before going out on his own.
West Virginia -Photographs of Huntington, West Virginia and other places, made by photographer Levi Holley Stone (1899-1981), were discovered at a flea market in Ohio in 2011. Stone is another of those who also photographed both African Americans and whites, but not in a photo studio.
The collection gained publicity last month (November) when Arcadia Publishing released 212 of the photographs as Huntington: The Levi Holley Stone Collection. The book is compiled by John Witek, a filmaker who discovered the negatives, and his wife Deborah Novak, and it is available from Arcadia publishing, Amazon, and other outlets.
The earliest images in the collection are those of Teddy Roosevelt on his visit to Huntington in 1912, when Stone was only 15 years old. The latest images were taken in the 1960s. “The collection is interesting because it’s photographs as seen through a workingman’s perspective,” Witek said. You can see several of these images in an article in the Charleston Gazette at http://tinyurl.com/mwjxzbx
In 2013, Witek exhibited several of the Stone photos at the Huntington Museum of Art. An article in the Huntington (WV) Herald-Dispatch gives background on the collection and its digitization, and quite a bit of detail on Stone, who “got feverishly caught up in the amateur photography craze that began at the end of the 19th century with the invention of the Kodak camera.” http://tinyurl.com/lypf9p6
Georgia -I am not sure how long this group has been available, but I only recently discovered it, and as they say, better late than never. The Atlanta-Fulton County Library’s Department of Special Collections has an online “Gallery of Fulton County Commissioners” on their website at http://www.afpls.org/special-collections-m
These are images of Commissioners who were in office from 1880 to the present. The photo below of Fulton County Commissioner Tom Winn, is only one example, but not all images found here were originally photographs.
© E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from this blog’s author is prohibited. The piece can be re-blogged, and excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.