Wow, the tail end of 2016 was full of news and goodies related to photography and photographers! To begin, here are a few updates to my series Researching Photographers Working in the South, starting with the recent news of an incredible gift.
The Alabama Media Group has given 3 million images (most in the form of film negatives but also some glass plates), from three newspapers — the Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times and Mobile’s Press-Register, as well as the defunct Birmingham Post-Herald and predecessors — to the Alabama State Archives. This collection dates from the 1920s into the 1990s and is the largest gift of historical materials received by the state archives in its history – and that’s 115 years! This will be “an unparalleled resource for students, educators and researchers studying 20th century Alabama.”
There are hundreds of thousands of manila envelopes, and it will take years to process. Alabama celebrates its bicentennial in 2019 and many of these images will be accessible by then. Topics include Huntsville Alabama’s part in the U.S. space race, agriculture and the Black Belt, the steel industry, the seaport of Mobile, sports, segregation and Civil Rights as well as photos of celebrities, politicians, authors, and others.
Read about the gift here in a December 2016 article on the Alabama Media Group’s AL.com. There is also a special Alabama Media Group section on the state archives’ site and you can see even more images, those previously scanned by the Alabama Media Group, online at AL.com Vintage.
Louisiana: Thomas Sully (1855-1939), who was named after his great-uncle, the Philadelphia portrait painter Thomas Sully, was an architect in New Orleans and the Gulf South region. Many photos relating to him, as well as his architectural plans for structures and yachts he designed from the 1890s through 1915, are located in the Southeastern Architectural Archive, Tulane University, New Orleans. An exhibit on Sully is on display at Tulane through June 03, 2017, and it has a wonderful online component.
Texas: In March 2015 I wrote in another Tuesday Tips about The Byrd Williams Family Photography Collection located in The University of North Texas Special Collections department. This past November there was an article in Lens-New York Times on this family and collection, highlighting the recently published book Proof, Photographs from Four Generations of a Texas Family (University of North Texas Press, November 2016) by photographer-educator Byrd M. Williams IV.
And not to forget those out of region collections holding images made in the South- The George Eastman Museum’s historic photo collection is being digitized. Thus far over 250,000 objects are online, including photographs but also photo technology-related items (cameras, equipment, manuals, etc.) and the George Eastman Legacy collection, which relates to his life and career. They are now working on adding their moving image collection.
Some of these materials, noted as part of the online collections, including some 19th century photographs, state “image not available.” Over 8,000 photographers are represented in museum’s holdings, and because the photographers are my primary interest, being able to view their work via these online collections, from anywhere, would be wonderful.
On the Eastman Museum website’s Photography search page is a category for People which is how one searches for the work by or photos of photographers (as well as photos of celebrities, politicians, etc.). At the top left of this page is an A-Z box which, in the overall site, can be changed to search A-Z Title, Date, Primary Maker, or Object Number. I finally found I could get the A-Z box to change to another letter, but made sure that it states People (not one of the other terms) above the box (which is different from Collections online, thus not all images can be viewed). I was difficult for me to finally get back to that point; the letters are slow to change, but do. For instance, under the letter D you will the find the Eastman House images of or relating to the man considered by many as the father of photography, Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre.
There are indeed Georgia images here. Of the four images by Atlanta photographer C.W. Motes found, only one is available to see online. This image is a studio portrait of an unidentified girl in a boat. This portrait is quite similar to another Motes photo I know well. That portrait is an 1880 cabinet card of Martha Fort Brown (granddaughter of civil war governor Joe Brown), used by me in an exhibit I curated in 1980 [its photo number in 1980 was 161]. The image appeared on the cover as well as on page 27 of the exhibit catalog Album: Original Photographs From the Atlanta Historical Society Collection (Atlanta Historical Society, 1980; printed by Michael Goodman, Nexus Press).
Both of these girls are sitting in the Motes studio prop “boat” called Flora (?), and each girl holds an oar. There are probably many more images by Motes made of girls in this little prop-boat, which may have been one of Motes’s favorites.
Read a 26 December 2016 article about the George Eastman Museum collection going online at Hyperallergic. I plan to take some time and explore their site some more. I hope you will give the site a try, too, and see what surprises you can unearth – send me a note, or a comment to this post, about your finds. I am interested in how well your searches went and your results.
Miscellany: A chart has been designed by Curtis Newbold, a communications professor and consultant, which gives some easy to understand guidelines regarding copyright and image use. He writes “At its most basic level, image usage can be boiled down to four main ideas: copyright, fair use, creative commons, and public domain. — The graphic below isn’t a comprehensive guide to image copyright, but it’s a great place to start.” See his very clear chart here: Image Use: You Can Use a Picture If: Guidelines for Image Copyrights My thanks to Nancy Hendrickson at http://ancestornews.com for pointing me to the charts by Newbold, who is known as The Visual Communication Guy.
The November – December 2016 issue of The Library of Congress Magazine is a special issue called The Power of Photography and it is full of good things.
Highlights in this jam-packed issue include “Pathways to Pictures” which highlights the LC’s collections and the media outlets they are using (blogs, pinterest, instagram, flickr, as well as their website), an article on photographs that document African American culture, the LC’s new scanner for panoramic photos, and “The Power of Photography,” a essay on the many uses of the LC’s photograph collections, by Helena Zinkham, chief of the Prints and Photographs Division. Short essays include one by a photo researcher, Amy Pastan, on how she uses the collections, one on the Library’s documentary photograph collections with one written by a documentary photographer. There is a nice piece on Women in Photography which concentrates on women photo-journalists. My thanks to John Edwin Mason for pointing me to this photo-centric LC Magazine issue.
Speaking of women in photography – here is an article about Lee McIntyre, a photography educator who has made it her mission to convey information about women in photography. She says “What I started to discover is that these women didn’t make it into the history books,” to which I say Duh? Of course these photographers aren’t in the history books, they are barely in the photo-history books! But I am being petty. It is wonderful when anyone recognizes the contributions of women to the history of photography.
McIntyre does, rightly, credit photo historian Peter Palmquist, of California, with whom I traded much information before his untimely death. His collection on women in photography, which includes the Women In Photography International Archive, now resides at the Beinecke Library, Yale University. She is going to be doing podcasts (“Photographs, Pistols and Parasols”) beginning this year, and she plans to publish a book in 2018. I look forward to seeing what McIntyre is able to add to our growing knowledge base of women working in or related to photography.
I hope some of this news in this new year is news to you! And I hope it is something you want to explore further. Here’s hoping all our Hunting and Gathering in 2017 goes according to plan.
© E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material or these images 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.