Author Archives: Kerin Shellenbarger, Research Archivist, Teenie Harris Archive

George Barbour and Teenie Harris Speak Up


Charles "Teenie" Harris, Group portrait of Pittsburgh Courier newspaper employees, seated from left: Hazel Garland, John Clark, Willa Mae Rice; standing: Charles "Teenie" Harris, Frank Bolden, Ralph Koger, Rev. Burt Logan, and George Barbour, posed in Pittsburgh Courier newspaper office, c. 1955, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Group portrait of Pittsburgh Courier newspaper employees, seated from left: Hazel Garland, John Clark, Willa Mae Rice; standing: Charles “Teenie” Harris, Frank Bolden, Ralph Koger, Rev. Burt Logan, and George Barbour, posed in Pittsburgh Courier newspaper office, c. 1955, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

Race: Are We So Different? opens March 29 at Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and will include Teenie Harris images from Carnegie Museum of Art’s collection as a collaboration between the two museums. This photographic project will recreate the “Pittsburghers Speak Up” column which ran from the 1950s to 70s in the preeminent African American newspaper, the Pittsburgh Courier. In the original column, Teenie’s photos accompanied interviews by reporter George Barbour (approx. 1957–1963). In reflection of this team, current KDKA TV anchor and producer Lynne Hayes-Freeland will serve as the community curator and interviewer, and Pittsburgh artist Nikkia Margaret Hall will photograph people as they respond to some of the same questions posed by and published in the Courier several decades ago. Teenie’s historic portraits and the responses of subjects will be presented alongside their contemporary counterparts in the exhibition’s Community Voices Gallery. Exhibition visitors will be encouraged to post their own opinions and responses to the questions on how race impacts their daily lives.

Pittsburgh Courier reporter George Barbour writing in notebook, and Edward A. Brennan standing on sidewalk with buildings in background, 1959, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

Pittsburgh Courier reporter George Barbour writing in notebook, and Edward A. Brennan standing on sidewalk with buildings in background, 1959, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

In an interview with archive staff in 2011, Mr. Barbour described his work with Teenie Harris:

“Yeah, man on the street, that was a lot of fun… so every week, I think it was on—when was it? It was the first of the week, Monday or Tuesday, we’d go Downtown, and the editor Frank Bolden would give us a question to ask. And so we’d just go along and I’d introduce myself to some people, and say: ‘I’m George Barbour, reporter from the Pittsburgh Courier and we’re doing an on-the-street survey, and we’d like very much to talk with you and find out your opinion about uh, what do you think about city government?’ And then the person would start talking away and Teenie would snap the picture, and we’d have about twelve people… I can’t think of being refused it one time—we always had a way of being able to get the confidence of people in this town. Yeah, it was very popular…”

Barbara Cooks wearing light colored coat and knit headband tied under chin, and Pittsburgh Courier reporter George Barbour standing on sidewalk at corner of Fifth Avenue and Liberty Avenue, Downtown, March 1958, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

Barbara Cooks wearing light colored coat and knit headband tied under chin, and Pittsburgh Courier reporter George Barbour standing on sidewalk at corner of Fifth Avenue and Liberty Avenue, Downtown, March 1958, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

Harris captured more than 3,500 people over two decades for this column. This street portraiture is possibly some of the most spontaneous work he made, yet much of it is quite striking for the way he stood quite close to his subjects and composed the frame. Unlike his studio clients or many of the subjects of his photojournalistic work, most of the people on the street were less likely to know Teenie personally. Their gaze is often direct, occasionally grumpy, frequently warm, and more often than not revealing that Harris had gained their trust.

Barbour interviewed Pittsburghers going about their daily lives Downtown and in other neighborhoods, with questions ranging from subjects that seem ridiculous from today’s perspective, to the city’s everlasting love of its sports teams, to events and issues still unresolved and pertinent now.

Jack Mager and James Embry holding books and standing on Liberty Avenue, Downtown, May 1958, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

Jack Mager and James Embry holding books and standing on Liberty Avenue, Downtown, May 1958, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

Mr. James Embry (Chauncey Street and Wylie Avenue) and Mr. Jack Mager (Sloan Street, McKees Rocks) were part of the “Pittsburghers Speak Up” column published in the Pittsburgh Courier newspaper, May 24, 1958, pg. A1, with the question: “Do you approve of women bartenders?”

Mr. Embry’s answer reads: “No, and one reason is there is too much notoriety, too many risks, and too filthy a job for women, in fact, the way I look at it, if a woman has to go into a bar just as a customer, let her take a table and booth and be seated and served.”

Mr. Mager’s answer reads: “Absolutely not, and mainly because a guy who goes to the bar likes to talk men’s talk. With women around, you can’t talk as you would like to without offending the women.”

Portrait of Iola Palmer wearing floral sleeveless dress, standing in front of Jenkins Arcade, Liberty Avenue, Downtown, May 1959, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

Portrait of Iola Palmer wearing floral sleeveless dress, standing in front of Jenkins Arcade, Liberty Avenue, Downtown, May 1959, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

Iola Palmer, housewife (Independence Street), was part of the “Pittsburghers Speak Up” column published in the Pittsburgh Courier newspaper, May 30, 1959, pg. A1, with the question: “Do you think single or married women make better teachers for elementary grades in public schools? Do you think that married men should teach in elementary grades?”

Her answer reads: “I believe that young single women would make the better teachers. This would open up more jobs for this class. In my opinion, a married woman should not have to work because she has her husband to support her. Frankly, I can’t say why, but I prefer ladies over men to teach elementary grades.”

Portrait of Ronald Anderson, wearing goatee, horizontal striped button down collared shirt, standing in front of light colored wall, left store window displaying female mannequin wearing light colored sleeveless polka dot dress with dark sheer overlay, store window on right displaying men's dress shoes with sign inscribed "...tom Tips...", 1958, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

Portrait of Ronald Anderson, wearing goatee, horizontal striped button down collared shirt, standing in front of light colored wall, left store window displaying female mannequin wearing light colored sleeveless polka dot dress with dark sheer overlay, store window on right displaying men’s dress shoes with sign inscribed “…tom Tips…”, 1958, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

Ronald Anderson (Rivermont Drive) was part of the “Pittsburghers Speak Up” column published in the Pittsburgh Courier newspaper, July 5, 1958, pg. 1, with the question: “What do you think is wrong with the Pittsburgh Pirates? Do you think that they are using their best ball players at all times?”

His answer reads: “The trouble seems to be something which the Pirates go through once a year. I think that if the men on the field were changed around, it would help. Some of the men on the bench could be playing and they probably could be doing as good a job as some of those on the field. Baker and Stevens are two of the men who could be used.”

Portrait of Elizabeth G. Henderson wearing dark double breasted coat, standing in front of Triangle Camera store window with sign advertising film projector for $39.50, November 1959, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

Portrait of Elizabeth G. Henderson wearing dark double breasted coat, standing in front of Triangle Camera store window with sign advertising film projector for $39.50, November 1959, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

Elizabeth G. Henderson, state field representative of the Fair Employment Practices Commission, was part of the “Pittsburghers Speak Up” column published in the Pittsburgh Courier newspaper, November 28, 1959, pg. A1, with the question: “Do you think race relations are improved, are worse, or about the same today as compared to pre-World War II years?”

Her answer reads: “They are definitely improved, although there is much to be done.”

Portrait of Benjamin Lewis wearing cap and leather coat, standing in front of brick wall with stone railing, January 1959, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

Portrait of Benjamin Lewis wearing cap and leather coat, standing in front of brick wall with stone railing, January 1959, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

Benjamin Lewis, unemployed (Roberts Street), was part of the “Pittsburghers Speak Up” column published in the Pittsburgh Courier newspaper, January 31, 1959, pg. 32, with the question: “Do you believe in capital punishment? If so, do you think that it should be imposed on convicted defendants under the age of 21?”

His answer reads: “No. I do not believe in capital punishment. And the reason is my religion. I’m a member of the Church of God in Christ. I believe that a person should be tried and sentenced for brutal crimes, if convicted, but the death penalty should not be inflicted. In my opinion, it is all right for a person to be sentenced to life in prison. And, in that way he will pay many times for his crime.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teenie Harris & the Great Appalachian Storm


Charles "Teenie" Harris, Man, possibly Charles "Teenie" Harris, digging car out of snow at Harris's home, 7604 Mulford Street, with Giarusso Bros. grocery store in background, Homewood

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Man, possibly Charles “Teenie” Harris, digging car out of snow at Harris’s home, 7604 Mulford Street, with Giarusso Bros. grocery store in background, Homewood

Much news attention has been given to Snowmageddon and the Polar Vortex, but in 1950, the Great Appalachian Storm dumped over 30 inches of snow during Thanksgiving weekend in Pittsburgh. The city was essentially shut down for days, the Allegheny County coroner warned those over the age of 45 against shoveling snow, and most of the newspapers ceased to print for a day or two. And Teenie Harris (who was used to being everywhere all of the time) was possibly stuck shoveling out as well.

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Mulford Street buried in snow, with man shoveling in center, Homewood, c. 1950, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Mulford Street buried in snow, with man shoveling in center, Homewood, c. 1950, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Child seated in snow drift in front of house at 2606 Mulford Street, Homewood, c. 1950, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Child seated in snow drift in front of house at 7606 Mulford Street, Homewood, c. 1950, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

I asked Charles A. Harris, Teenie Harris’s oldest son, what his dad thought of snow:

“I was very young when my father took me aside and talked about people who liked snow because it was so pretty. He really impressed upon me that though it may be pretty to look at from inside, there was always someone trying to go to work; many many accidents are caused by snow for people who don’t have a choice. In addition, there are ambulances that have to travel dangerous streets on their way to the hospital. In a word, he HATED SNOW!”

And it shows—out of over 70,000 negatives that we’ve cataloged so far, there are only around 120 that feature snow. Throughout his career, snow impeded his photojournalistic work…

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Long line of protesters walking during snowfall carrying placards that read, "We Protest Kutchman's Appointment", with Kay's Furniture and Areford Brother's Real Estate, street no. 62 in background, c. 1950–1965, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Long line of protesters walking during snowfall carrying placards that read, “We Protest Kutchman’s Appointment”, with Kay’s Furniture and Areford Brother’s Real Estate, street no. 62 in background, c. 1950–1965, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Car, Michigan license plate, with front smashed in, on street during snow storm, 1963, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Car, Michigan license plate, with front smashed in, on street during snow storm, 1963, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

…but also provided subjects for photographs…

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Woman wearing earrings, light colored scarf, coat, and dark heeled boots, standing with hands in pockets on snowy lawn looking down into hole or well with stone walls, c. 1961, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Woman wearing earrings, light colored scarf, coat, and dark heeled boots, standing with hands in pockets on snowy lawn looking down into hole or well with stone walls, c. 1961, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Portrait of Elaine Coles wearing light colored coat and dark gloves, holding snowball, and squatting in snowy yard with light colored brick house in background, February 1958, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Portrait of Elaine Coles wearing light colored coat and dark gloves, holding snowball, and squatting in snowy yard with light colored brick house in background, February 1958, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund. This one ran in the Pittsburgh Courier on February 15, 1958, with the caption: “Um-m-m-m Valentine! – Pretty Elaine Coles… a fine Valentine Day choice (or a ‘fox in snow’), smiles for the Courier photographer despite February’s icy blasts. Too bad the weather forced Miss Coles to snuggle in her winter coat. She has the figure to match her lovely face…”

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Man, possibly Brother Pharaoh, in Muslim dress posed barefoot in the snow, 1955-1975, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Man, possibly Brother Pharaoh, in Muslim dress posed barefoot in the snow, 1955-1975, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Car covered in snow and ice parked in front of row houses at 2325 Centre Avenue, Hill District, c. 1959, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Car covered in snow and ice parked in front of row houses at 2325 Centre Avenue, Hill District, c. 1959, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

But though he didn’t like the stuff, it’s no surprise that Harris still managed to capture some joyous images of those who did:

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Child lying on sled, sliding down hill, with other children standing at top, with tall chain link fence on right, Watt Street, Hill District, c. 1946, black and white: Ansco Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Child lying on sled, sliding down hill, with other children standing at top, with tall chain link fence on right, Watt Street, Hill District, c. 1946, black and white: Ansco Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Young women throwing snowballs with one story building in background, c. 1940-1945, black and white: Agfa Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Young women throwing snowballs with one story building in background, c. 1940-1945, black and white: Agfa Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Two children jumping into snow in front of Bedford Dwellings, with truck parked in background inscribed "B. Portnoy's Market, groceries, meat, produce, 2232 Centre Ave.," Hill District, c. 1947, black and white: unknown safety film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Two children jumping into snow in front of Bedford Dwellings, with truck parked in background inscribed “B. Portnoy’s Market, groceries, meat, produce, 2232 Centre Ave.,” Hill District, c. 1947, black and white: unknown safety film, Heinz Family Fund

24 Hours with JFK and Teenie Harris


During his decades-long photographic career, Teenie Harris photographed President John F. Kennedy more than any other US president. Kennedy visited Western Pennsylvania several times during his presidential campaign, but during a 24-hour period on October 12 and 13, 1962, while campaigning for Democratic congressional and state candidates, Teenie Harris captured all of his speaking engagements in the area. Kennedy spoke on national issues still pertinent today, including jobs, healthcare, and education, as well as the discord between congressional Democrats and Republicans. All of his speeches in Western Pennsylvania during those two days expressed these same themes, but were delivered differently at each stop. They were also recorded on audio tape and are available today through the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum.

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Charles “Teenie” Harris, John F. Kennedy exiting Air Force One at Pittsburgh airport for presidential campaign visit, October 1962, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Friday, October 12, 1962
Afternoon: Kennedy flies to the Pittsburgh area after attending a Columbus Day parade in New York City. Harris waits in the crowd at the airport, possibly getting damp from a passing rain. He photographs the president disembarking Air Force One and greeting the crowd.

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Charles “Teenie” Harris, Police officers greeting John F. Kennedy at airport with Air Force One in background, October 1962, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

4:00 p.m.: Harris captures the crowds gathered in Aliquippa, the site of Kennedy’s first speech of the trip.

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Charles “Teenie” Harris, Crowd on hillside and in street for President John F. Kennedy’s visit, with political signs for William Kovolenko for Legislative Representative and “Let’s Free the Toll Bridge,” Aliquippa, October 1962, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

The newspapers report that the rain ended in time for the president’s speech. Harris is crowded by other press photographers and takes only one known picture, perhaps knowing he got a clear view at that moment. Hear Kennedy’s speech in Aliquippa or read the transcript.

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Charles “Teenie” Harris, President Kennedy in Aliquippa: President Kennedy addressing crowd in Aliquippa with banner reading “Aliquippa Voters, I Need You”, October 1962, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Late afternoon: The Pittsburgh Press prints the exact route that Kennedy’s motorcade would take to Pittsburgh so that the public could line the streets to watch. After arriving in Pittsburgh, Kennedy checks in to the Penn-Sheraton Hotel for a few hours before his next event.

9:00 p.m.: Kennedy speaks to a packed crowd at the Fitzgerald Field House on the University of Pittsburgh campus in Oakland.

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Charles “Teenie” Harris, President Kennedy in Pittsburgh: President Kennedy addressing crowd in University of Pittsburgh field house with Kennedy portrait and banner for Dilworth for Governor in background, October 1962, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Harris isn’t able to, or chooses not to, get close to the platform. He also experiences a little camera trouble or a darkroom accident, as several of the negatives have light leaks on the left margins. It is likely that he was quickly developing and printing the film later that night (or the early hours of the morning) in the basement darkroom of his house in Homewood. Hear Kennedy’s speech from University of Pittsburgh or read the transcript.

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See more Teenie Harris photos from the archive on our Collection page and on Getty Images.
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Saturday, October 13, 1962
10:30 a.m.:  The weather has cleared, and is described as “near perfect.” Kennedy’s first speech of the day was scheduled in McKeesport.

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Charles “Teenie” Harris, President Kennedy in McKeesport: President John F. Kennedy under marquee addressing audience at outdoor field along Lysle Boulevard in McKeesport, October 1962, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Harris moves about the crowd photographing from several angles, capturing the president framed by the dark shadow of the marquee and the massive crowd gathered in downtown McKeesport. Hear Kennedy’s speech in McKeesport or read the transcript.

Charles "Teenie" Harris, President Kennedy in McKeesport: John F. Kennedy speaking under awning outdoors to a large crowd, Hirshbergs, Peoples Union Bank, and Reubens in background, near intersection of Walnut Street and Lysle Boulevard, 1962, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, President Kennedy in McKeesport: John F. Kennedy speaking under awning outdoors to a large crowd, Hirshbergs, Peoples Union Bank, and Reubens in background, near intersection of Walnut Street and Lysle Boulevard, October 1962, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

11:40 a.m.: Running 10 minutes behind schedule, Kennedy makes his remarks in Monessen.

Charles "Teenie" Harris, President John F. Kennedy speaking from podium, with Senator Joseph S. Clark and Pennsylvania Governor David L. Lawrence seated behind him, Monessen, Pennsylvania, 1962, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, President John F. Kennedy speaking from podium, with Senator Joseph S. Clark and Pennsylvania Governor David L. Lawrence seated behind him, Monessen, Pennsylvania, October 1962, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Here Harris makes one of the most beautiful images of the president, as well as one among the most popular in his body of work. He seems to be standing on the speaker’s platform and perhaps leaning slightly against the railing on the right. No other photographers are jockeying for his spot. And the police officer on the roof in the distance becomes a foreshadowing element to many who view the image today.

Charles "Teenie" Harris, President Kennedy in Monessen: President John F. Kennedy speaking at a podium to a crowd with Rosenson's furniture store in background, 1962, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, President Kennedy in Monessen: President John F. Kennedy speaking at a podium to a crowd with Rosenson’s furniture store in background, October 1962, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Harris also captured the event from Kennedy’s point of viewa trademark of his photographic work with musicians and other celebrities on stage. Hear Kennedy’s speech in Monessen or read the transcript.

12:30 p.m.: Kennedy’s last stump speech took place in Washington, Pennsylvania, where he also had lunch.

Charles "Teenie" Harris, President Kennedy in Washington: President Kennedy addressing crowd from platform in front of large stone building with doric columns and sign saying "Welcome Mr. President," Washington, Pennsylvania, October 1962, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, President Kennedy in Washington: President Kennedy addressing crowd from platform in front of large stone building with doric columns and sign saying “Welcome Mr. President,” Washington, Pennsylvania, October 1962, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Harris again stayed back in the crowd, perhaps aware of the strength of the portrait he had taken less than an hour earlier. That negative was likely still undeveloped and secured in his coat pocket or the trunk of his car. Hear Kennedy’s speech in Washington, PA, or read the transcript.

3:00 p.m.: Kennedy returns to the Pittsburgh area to take a flight to his next event in Indianapolis, Indiana. Harris is likely in his darkroom. The next day, a US military surveillance aircraft took aerial photographs of Cuba, leading to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Kerin Shellenbarger, Research Archivist, Teenie Harris Archive

Vote for Teenie!


Teenie Harris’s 16mm film collection has been nominated as one of Pennsylvania’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts as part of the Save Pennsylvania’s Past initiative to protect and preserve the state’s cultural collections. Your vote could help the collection earn the People’s Choice Award, and your donation will directly fund the conservation of Teenie Harris’s film. Vote for before November 1, 2013! You can vote, donate, and share as many times as you like.

But you might be wondering—Teenie Harris also made 16mm films in addition to the 80,000+ photographic negatives that he shot? Why haven’t I seen them? Well, we have not been able to show the film due to its fragile condition. In the 1940s, Teenie Harris used to hang a bed sheet on his garage wall to show films to the neighborhood children. These included popular cartoons, boxing matches, and footage that he shot around the neighborhood and during his travels for work and pleasure.

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Charles “Teenie” Harris, Two women in front of George Harris’ confectionery shop at 2121 Wylie Avenue, Hill District, Pittsburgh, c. 1940-1955, Heinz Family Fund, 2001.35.FilmK

So far, we’ve only been able to examine the film without projecting it. Some sections of the film are damaged and becoming increasingly brittle. We would like to repair the film, make a copy, and digitize it so that it may be possible to view online and during exhibitions. What we’ve seen so far is very exciting. Some footage compliments subjects in still photos Teenie Harris took, such as a vacation to Atlantic City, scenes outside his studio and his brother’s confectionary store in the Hill, and Negro League baseball games at Forbes Field.

Other footage is unknown and will require research and assistance from you to help identify it. By donating to the Teenie Harris film collection, you will help save this important part of Harris’s work and help make it visible for all to see.

Teenie Harris, Professional Basketball Player


Photographer Charles “Teenie” Harris was a well-known athlete in his youth long before he earned his moniker of “One Shot.” In the first half of the 1920s, along with Bill Harris (no relation), he founded the Pittsburgh Crawfords baseball team that would become a Negro League powerhouse. Around the same time, he was developing a reputation as an ace dribbler and fast player on the basketball court, and later as a well-respected team manager and coach. The Pittsburgh Courier newspaper would report weekly details of his actions in the game.

Among the first teams Harris gained his reputation was as captain on the Paramount A. C. basketball team that played in the 1926 city championship. Through the 1920s and early 1930s he played intermittently for the team, including brief stints on rival teams including Holy Cross and Loendi. Paramount A. C. later became the Hotel Bailey Big Five team in whose uniform he’s captured in this image by an unknown photographer.

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Copy of a c. 1929–1931 photograph of Charles “Teenie” Harris in Hotel Bailey basketball uniform, with basketball on floor, in studio setting, copy created by Harris c. 1950–1970, Heinz Family Fund

In 1934, he extended his coaching skills to the local Savoy women’s basketball team whose games were described as “fast-paced.” Also at this time, when Harris was in his mid-20s, his career was at its peak with the Iron City Elks team. Chester Washington, in his sports column for the Pittsburgh Courier on March 28, 1936, describes Harris as:

“…the deceptive little scooter and dribbler, a former Paramount A. C. speedster who is not only a sterling little runner if the race grows hot and needs him, but together with Harry Beale handles the managerial reins of the antlered ponies.”

The Iron City Elks completed against teams from the greater western Pennsylvania region, east coast, and fraternities and colleges such as Wilberforce. Through his managerial skills, he was able to bring the New York Renaissance and Celtics teams to play in Pittsburgh. According to his son, Charles A. “Little Teenie” Harris:

“The greatest achievement my dad felt that he had was bringing to Pittsburgh the two best basketball teams in the world from New York—the Renaissance and the Celtics.  He never looked forward to a basketball game as much as he did when the Rens came to town.”

Harris began to get serious about photography in late 1937 and began publishing his images in Washington DC based Flash Newspicture Magazine in 1938. Consequently, he named his next basketball team “Flash.” On February 10, 1938, the New York Renaissance came to Pittsburgh to play the Pittsburgh Pirates basketball team and two days later they played Flash. Flash lost to the New York Renaissance at the Centre Avenue YMCA.

Shortly thereafter he increasingly turned his attention to coaching, including the Centre Avenue YMCA team, and formed a recreational team made up of former professional and college players named “The Old Timers” a few years later. His love of the sport and admiration for the New York Renaissance was passed on to his son. “Little Teenie” formed and captained his own teams which he named “The Rens,” and played on school teams as well.

In 1946, father and son played against each other in what his son humbly described as “basketball 101,” since the youth were so instructed (and beaten 34–22) by their elders.

Teenie’s basketball career declined by the 1950s, when his Old Timer’s team was referred by the Courier as the “’Real’ Old-timers… held together by ankle wraps and lineament.”