It has been that odd time of year in Georgia where one day you are sure that Summer has really started, and a few days later you are wearing a jacket, and then, suddenly it is really hot! This Spring I picked up several good tips for you on new collections and sources in the South, many for researching Southern Photographers.
Researchers seek out the Burgert Brothers photograph collection, spanning the 1890s through early 1960s, for views of old Tampa, Florida. For views of Tampa’s more recent past, aerial photographer Bill Morris (d. 2006), a former WWII pilot, took thousands of photographs over the Tampa Bay Area from the mid-1960s through mid-1990s. Many of his images appeared in The Tampa Tribune and The Tampa Times under the credit line “Selbypic” (meaning “sell by the picture”). His widow, Peggy, donated 10,000 – 20,000 images, negatives, and other material to the Tampa Bay History Center. Plans are to have the collection digitized by an outside vendor. Read about the donated collection here, and stay tuned!
A gift of nearly 3,000 photographs was made to the University of Georgia Museum of Art making the Georgia Museum one of the major repositories for 20th century photographs. The gift came from three sources: Patrick (Pat) and Patricia A. Kennedy, of San Leandro, California, donated close to 3,000 photographs by “magic realist” Arthur Tress, and smaller groups by photographers including Harry Callahan (who, in later life, had ties to Atlanta). David Knaus, also of California, made a gift of prints by documentary photographer Milton Rogovin, and others were donated by Rogovin’s daughter-in-law. Read more about the gifts here and to listen to Arthur Tress discuss his Appalachian photographs and his cameras, see the Georgia Museum’s “Inside Look: Selected Acquisitions.
Photographs from the Jimmy Carter Library, part of the National Archives system, are online at the National Archives Catalog. The Presidential Photographs document Carter’s time in the White House, including photos of staff and representatives, and the many visiting dignitaries and celebrities to the White House and Camp David. The Personal Family Photographs on this site even includes Jimmy Carter with his 1941 Plains High School graduation class.
Other Georgia news is that Kenneth Marks, of The Ancestor Hunt, has expanded both the Georgia Online Historical Photos collection (now 90 databases), and the collection of Free Online Yearbooks (from 229 Georgia high schools and colleges). Note that there can be several entries for a city and each may go to a separate yearbook title, so check each one because these titles are not noted in the list of links.
With roots back to Georgia, the first known Native American photographer in Indian Territory, Jennie Ross Cobb, experimented with photography as early as 1895, but probably bought her first camera around 1902. She was only a photographer until 1905, when she became a teacher in the Cherokee Nation. She was born in Tahlequah, Indian Territory, in late 1881 (d.1959), where her family settled following their forced removal from Georgia in 1838-1839. Her great-grandfather was Chief John Ross, of Rossville, Georgia, who united three Cherokee factions, following that removal West over the “Trail of Tears.” The Cobb Collection is part of the 400 Years Project which is a library of Native American photographers from the mid-1800s to now.
Cape Fear Museum has a collection of more than 57,000 objects, paper documents, and photographs. which “sheds light on the history, science, and cultures of the Lower Cape Fear. This online catalog provides access to the Museum’s photograph collection, consisting of more than 15,000 images. This catalog will continue to grow as the Museum collects additional photographs.”
Masaharu Iizuka (b. 1915 in Japan; d. 1933 Ashville, NC) opened his own photography studio in Asheville, when he westernized his name to George Masa. He documented the booming town, its prominent visitors, and the mountain landscapes surrounding the Asheville area. Read about and see some of his photographs including portraits of the photographer in an article here, and read also about the book coming out on him in June, called George Masa’s Wild Vision: A Japanese Immigrant Imagines Western North Carolina.
Fitz Brundage got the idea over a decade ago to create a comprehensive digital collection of North Carolina’s monuments, shrines and commemorative public art. Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina, or CommLand, is a partnership with University Libraries (part of the digital publishing program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library), and now features over 1,000 monuments across the state in all 100 counties. It is the most extensive site devoted to one state’s historical monuments and memorials. Read more about it at the University of North Carolina website.
The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin received the gift, in 2021, of over 85,000 archive prints by the well-known photographer Robert Polidori, recognized for his detailed, large-format color film photographs exploring the built world. Of particular interest to us are his photographs of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and subsequent flooding in New Orleans. These photographs were highlighted in the exhibit “New Orleans After the Flood” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, in 2006. The Center will announce when the collection is open to researchers. Read more about the photographer and see selections of his work here. An exhibit of Polidari’s photographic archive is open at the Center until Dec. 16, 2022.
The Briscoe Center is one of the major resources for research on the history of the American South, with a special emphasis on chattel slavery, the cotton economy, and the Civil War. Within the Natchez Trace Collection, “the Photograph Collection (ca. 1855–1920), contains more than 870 images, including daguerreotypes, lantern slides, cartes-de-visite portraits, stereographs, tintypes, and postcards depicting families, scenes, and commercial views from the Natchez and Vicksburg areas. Prominent New Orleans, Natchez, and Vicksburg photographers made many of those images.” The general photograph collection of more than 8 million images, covers the period from the late 1840s to the present.
The contents of the Digital Library of Appalachia (DLA) are drawn from the many special collections of Appalachian College Association member libraries in Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Topics include Music, Religion, Education, Literature, Politics, and Visual Arts and Handicrafts.
The Cornell University Library Digital Collections Stephan Loewentheil Collection of African American Photographs is a cornucopia of wonderful images and includes many taken by Southern photographers. These photographers include several of Richmond, Virginia: Jefferson Art Gallery, Richmond Photo Co., George Brown, and at least one image and info card from the State Penitentiary at Richmond. Those from other parts of Virginia include the Virginia Photo Co., of Charlottsville, J.R. Cole of Manchester, and P. W. Poff of Pocahontas. There are also images by H. Peppel of Hinton, West Virginia, and J. H. Van Ness of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Keep looking through these images, and try a search or two. There is so much there that I think there must be many more named photographers from the South.
What most excited me was to discover a photograph on this site made by R. Williams of Augusta, Georgia. Robert Williams (1832-1917) was an African American photographer who very possibly trained ca.1857-58 under Augusta’s Tucker & Perkins. Williams was noted working in Augusta as a photo printer for John Usher, Jr. from 1872 until 1885 (and Usher worked for Williams about 1888). In 1886 Williams possibly worked for photographer W.F. Prather. Williams worked independently from about 1888 through 1894, and in 1895 he formed R. Williams & Son. His son Robert E. Williams (1858 – 1937) was an Augusta photographer until about 1920, when he changed occupations more than once.
I hope you found something of interest here. So much is online, but it does us all good to get out to archives, museums, and other repositories and do some on site research. Good luck to us all as we hunt and gather that research wherever it may be, through the long, hot summer!
© E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, without written permission from this blog’s author, is prohibited. With permission, excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering.