Teenie Harris Archive Stories: Part 1


One of the most satisfying things about working with the Teenie Harris Archive is the crucial role the public plays in helping the museum preserve the history surrounding these photographs. Thanks to your feedback—in the form of personal stories or your own research—we have received many insights into the subjects of Harris’s work. Learning more about these photographs is an important part of preserving Pittsburgh’s past, and we thank you for your help!

In honor of Black History Month, below are a couple of the recent updates we’ve made to the Teenie Harris Archive based on your feedback. If you’d like to share more information about the people, places, or events in these images, or any of the nearly 1,000 photographs featured in Teenie Harris, Photographer: An American Story, you can send us an email at CMA-ArchiveProject@carnegiemuseums.org, or simply fill out one of the forms available in the exhibition.

The exhibition closes April 7—don’t miss this chance to see some of Teenie’s photographs up close and share your own stories. And check back here soon for more stories from the archive!

 

Paging Dr. Miller?

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Man inserting needle into girl’s arm, possibly for tuberculosis test, c. 1959 (Exhibition No. 803)

Ruth Madden, a nurse, identified the activity taking place as possibly an intradermal tuberculosis test. She was struck by the nonchalant expression of the girl, and wondered about the public health practices at the time. We originally thought that this might have been a polio vaccination event, but this new information helped us correct a few other images in which we described people getting “shots” instead of blood draws or treatment administrations. This image has still not been located in the Pittsburgh Courier newspaper, but another image published on April 11, 1959, shows Dr. Raymond Miller of the Allegheny Health Department administering Mantoux tuberculosis tests. Could the man here with the needle be Dr. Miller?

 

Coming or going?

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Ship, possibly destroyer escort USS Harmon, departing shipyard, with men standing on wharf, c. 1946–1949 (Exhibition No. 437)

Both Lt. Suni Feura and Dick Rubinoff perceptively caught that the direction of the wake of this ship indicated that it had just been launched (we didn’t know for sure if it was coming or going) and that it likely was a Naval ship. One suggested that it may have been at the Dravo shipyards at Neville Island, and the building in the background was a Duquesne Light power plant. Dravo built LST ships during World War II, but also a few destroyer escorts. Upon blowing up the image, we made out the initials “DE” on the hull, and a possible number of “678.”  If this is correct, then the ship was the USS Harmon, named after Mess Attendant First Class Leonard Roy Harmon, an African American hero in the battle of Guadalcanal. Alec Perkins has suggested that the ship is specifically the Destroyer Escort USS Harmon, which was launched from Quincy, Massachusetts on July 9, 1943. If the Harmon was built in Massachusetts, more research is needed to determine if it ever came to Pittsburgh and whether the location in the image is in fact Neville Island.