Category Archives: Photography

Teenie Harris: In the Aisles


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Selections from the Teenie Harris Archive are sometimes shared with the public in unexpected ways. This week we highlight the photos currently displayed in the recently opened SHOP ‘n SAVE market, in the heart of Pittsburgh’s Hill District. Seeing Teenie Harris images as you gather your groceries along the aisles of the new structure ties the past to the present in comfortable style. For those of us who grew up in the Hill District during Teenie’s prime, it was an all too common occurrence to bump into him taking photos on assignment for the Pittsburgh Courier, capturing newsworthy moments, entertainment, sports, social events, or personal portraits. And quite often, while you were shopping, as well.

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When I was a youngster in the early 1960s, milk was delivered daily to your doorstep by the milkman, dressed all in white clothing. In addition, your local huckster stopped by your block several times a week with fresh produce and meat. To my delight, while browsing through the Archive several years ago, I happened to find a photo Teenie captured of the huckster (Phil Argento) I anxiously waited for several times a week as a little girl. This curbside shopping was accompanied by the small grocery stores that occupied many street corners in the neighborhood. But we also would take a trip to the big grocery chain store, which was at that time considered a far drive—about a mile or so away. At the big market we could indulge in fancy cheeses, unique produce like pineapples flown in from Florida, or California oranges. And my personal favorite—red Faygo soda pop—it was my treat if I behaved properly while on the shopping excursion. In those days, you wore nice clothes and perhaps even white gloves, and gentlemen helped you push your cart out of the store, even placing the bags in your car.

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Times have obviously changed, and the Hill District, like all the other neighborhoods, lost their hucksters and milkmen long ago. But sadly even the large grocery chain lying within a close distance had disappeared for way too long. With the opening of the new SHOP ‘n SAVE, it offers easier access to the Hill residents, especially for those who must tote their packages on public transportation or pay for jitneys or other cab services. How appropriate that some of its native son’s photos are now hanging in this particular store. I think about how often Teenie was seen shooting photos in the very spot where the store sits today, and all along Centre Avenue where his studio once existed. And how awesome it is that his photos of a streetcar on Herron Avenue, jazz musicians, children crossing the street from school or eating a humble meal, and a former store of the 15219 area code were selected to tie two centuries together. Having known Teenie, I would venture to say he would be proud, not particularly because of how artistically (in fact) he captured such scenes, but more so that the Hill District now had a place to call its own, once again.

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Beijing Silvermine Project


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The Beijing Silvermine Project makes a strong case for the necessity to materialize photographic images as physical, tangible objects that exist in the world. Initiated by the French collector and editor Thomas Sauvin, this massive archive currently contains over half a million analog photographic negatives made by Beijing’s inhabitants, shot between 1985 and 2005. Salvaged from recycling plants in the periphery of the city, these discarded objects—35 mm analog color negatives blemished by time—have been renewed with a very different kind of life. The time frame itself is also a telling subtext: There’s the reforming and opening up of the economy and a marked shift towards a leisure class on the one hand, and the changing nature of the photographic medium from silver-based processes to the digital on the other hand.

That the trove of images is a poignant and truthful record of the collective experience of Beijing’s citizens is the obvious response. But what the project also insistently reminds us is that the physicalized photograph circulates in ways that are more unpredictable and surprising than their digital counterparts. The Beijing Silvermine photographs are more like vagabond drifters, accruing traces of experience throughout their passages, and through time and space. As the first law of thermodynamics states, physical things can be altered but not entirely destroyed. Had Sauvin not intervened on behalf of these photographic objects they would have been processed through chemical treatments so that the remnant silver nitrate could be extracted and used elsewhere.

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Instead, these rescued images—including events such as births, weddings, and travel snapshots, to the more wondrously formal and accidental blurs and chance compositions—provide a collective lens to view an existent, self-contained universe peopled by a specific populace in a precise place that not only encapsulates life, but also all the varying forces that shape it.

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Arthur Ou is assistant professor at Parsons The New School, and is one of the agents for the Hillman Photography Initiative. More info about the Initiative and this year’s upcoming programming will be announced very soon. All images in this post are courtesy of the Beijing Silvermine Project.

Teenie Harris: Racial Progress


The results of the Civil Rights movement are ever evolving. It’s been a bumpy process—surges of progressive equality in one instance, met with setbacks such as assassinations, unfair imprisonment, and the silent segregation of “not separate but still not equal” pervading all areas of life. Even with a second-term African American president, our society is still working out the balance of human rights. However, much of the progress of racial harmony was evident in Teenie Harris’s lifetime, which he captured beautifully, sampled here in this week’s selections. They include positive images of racial inclusion, camaraderie, and mutual support in business alliances, entertainment, sports, pageants, organizations, and day-to-day friendships.

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Group portrait of basketball players wearing vertically striped socks cheering in locker room, c. 1930–1970, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Group portrait of six beauty pageant contestants in evening gowns with sashes, including “Miss Universe Contestant”, “Miss Universe [...]yles by [...]“, [...] Coastguard Aux. No. 32″, and Miss Pittsburgh seated in center, c. 1930–1970, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Two men, including Fred “Sir Frederick” Squires on right, standing behind group of four seated women styling hair, in interior with mermaids on wall, c. 1950–1970, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Group portrait of men and women, most wearing name tags, including woman kneeling in front row, in interior with squiggle patterned carpet, and sunburst clock on right wall, 1969, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Group portrait of seven men, including one on right wearing dark double breasted suit with middle button fastened, moustache, and eyeglasses, posed in front of Pittsburgh Courier Newspaper offices, c. 1947, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Group portrait of three women, including two wearing fur coats, and four men, including one wearing military uniform, with Walt Harper, third from right, posed in interior with light colored walls, c. 1951, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Group portrait, front row, from left: William McCarthy, Kenneth Ott, Ernest L. Taylor, guest of honor; Henry Henderson, and Ralph Gardner; back row: David Wilson, William Thomas, Clifford Thompson, Joseph Byrne, and Bert Thompson, posed in basement for birthday testimonial in home of Mr. and Mrs. Young, 306 Chalfont Street, March 1953, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Maida Springer Kemp standing and speaking behind head banquet table, with men seated from left: Rev. R. J. Coleman, Edward Shelton, Herbert Hill, Eric Springer, and Hugh Cleeland, at NAACP career conference, University of Pittsburgh Student Union, May 24, 1958, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Group portrait of five men, including Pittsburgh Mayor Thomas J. Gallagher, presenting framed letter to woman wearing paisley dress, in the Office of the Mayor at the City County Building, 1959, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Group portrait of twelve men wearing bathing suits, including two on right demonstrating lifesaving maneuver, in indoor swimming pool, possibly at Centre Avenue YMCA, c. 1959, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Group portrait of Mike Biscegila, Judy Hopson, and Verner Russell, leaning over newspaper, in interior, May 1960, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Group portrait of man wearing African dress, and eight women, including one wearing ethnic style dress with vest, standing in center, posed in interior with patterned sofa and chair, c. 1960, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

 

Teenie Harris: Rallies & Protests


An integral part of the Civil Rights movement was the use of rallies and demonstrations. The sheer physical presence of allied individuals (both black and white) demanding the need for job opportunity, better housing, or customer fairness at department stores and restaurants was often the key turning point in achieving progress. A variety of groups ranging from the NAACP, Urban League, Black Construction Council, college students, and faith-based coalitions to the Black Berets and Black Panthers rallied in mostly peaceful and organized demonstrations, striving to have their voices heard. All endeavors were for a common cause—equality owed to people of color. Teenie Harris eloquently documented a variety of the marches in the Greater Pittsburgh area. Below are just some of the moments he captured on film.

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Protest march with women and men holding signs for equal rights, heading toward downtown Pittsburgh, with church in background, c. 1969, black and white: Kodak Safety; Heinz Family Fund

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Alberta Jordan Reaves and Willa Mae James protesting in front of Isaly’s, with Joel Wanzer in background, Homewood, August 1953, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Men from Local Union 178 protesting labor policy outside United Steelworkers headquarters, Commonwealth Building, Downtown, September 1963, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Men with protest signs reading “City Unfair to Employees” picketing on Grant Street in downtown Pittsburgh, c. 1950–1970, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Protest against slum housing outside Commonwealth Savings and Loan Association, with sign reading “We’re in this fight together: NAACP, Urban League, CASH…,” c. 1950–1970, black and white: Kodak Safety; Heinz Family Fund

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Broadside for Black Panther Manifesto on trial of Bobby Seale, pasted on window in Homewood, April 1970, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Protesters, possibly including Nate Smith on megaphone in front of others, including James McCoy, Matthew Moore Sr., Vince Matthews, Herbert Bean, Dr. Charles Greenlee, Rev. Donald McIlvane, Charles Kendall, Charles Michaels, Mike Desmond, Byrd Brown, Gabby Russell, and Pauline Hall demonstrating against discrimination at US Steel in front of Union Trust Building, Downtown, June 1966, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Members of Black Berets of Homewood leading protest march against discrimination in construction jobs, Fifth Avenue, Oakland, August 1969, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Protesters, including Rev. Bill Powell, James McCoy, Mal Goode, Byrd Brown, possibly Jim Scott, and Rev. LeRoy Patrick, with signs reading: “Job opportunities for us too,” “We just want our God-given rights,” and “The soundness of our cause should prick your conscience,” outside Civic Arena, Lower Hill District, October 1961, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Jesse Jackson and group of civil rights advocates, including Bob Collins, George Simmons, Ewari [Ed] Ellis, Luther Sewell, and Clyde Jackson, preparing for press conference, March 1972, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Protesters outside of U. S. Steel building, including Byrd Brown with sign reading “NAACP PGH Branch,” and Judge Henry Smith with sign reading “US Steel still has segregated facilities in 1966,” Downtown, June 1966 black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Protesters including Baptist Temple Reverend J. A. Williams and woman with sandwich board reading “Protest – racial discrimination in employment breeds poverty, poverty breeds communism, this company has a discriminatory employment pattern, NAACP youth council,” c. 1963, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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NAACP protesters James “Jim” McCoy and Matthew Moore, in front of Beck Shoe Store with signs inscribed “Help Mr. K. in Washington, Hurt Mr. K in Moscow,” Fifth Avenue, Downtown, December 1961, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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K. Leroy Irvis and Pittsburgh Police Assistant Superintendent Lawrence J. Maloney at NAACP demonstration against employment policies, Downtown, c. 1963, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Black Monday Demonstration on behalf of Black Construction Council, Rev. Jimmy Joe Robinson preparing to lead protest march, with Ron Davenport, Norman Johnson, Rev. Bill Powell, Bill Banks, Lloyd Bell, Mike Desmond, men in hard hats, and others carrying flags with wreath wrapped around fist motif, at Freedom Corner with St. Benedict the Moor church in background, September 1969, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Crowd, including nuns and clergy, in Point State Park with stairs in background, possibly during Black Construction Coalition protest, c. 1965–1975, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Men from McKees Rocks throwing mock casket with signs reading “For Immediate Action Keep Your Local Community Program Alive,” into river for protest against cutbacks of poverty program, the Point, Downtown, January 1967, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Men protesting, including Henry Smith, Mal Goode, Byrd Brown, and Boyd L. Wilson, outside of Woolworth’s, carrying sign reading “The Battle for Civil Rights is not only a Negro Problem, but the Concern of all Good Americans,” Smithfield Street and Sixth Avenue, Downtown, 1960, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Women, including Marva Jo Hord (Harris), protesting outside of Woolworth’s carrying signs reading “A protest against this co. policy in the south,” “Chatham students protest civil rights violation,” and “Chatham students protest Woolworth lunch counter segregation,” Smithfield Street and Sixth Avenue, Downtown, 1960, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Dr. T.R.M. Howard standing behind podium on stage at Soldier’s and Sailor’s Memorial Hall, with full audience, seen from above, for NAACP protest rally, October 1955, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Large group of men and women standing on sidewalks in front of United States Post Office building, some carrying signs inscribed “ADA says now” and “Western Pennsylvania Marches for Jobs and Freedom”, men wearing dark military uniforms on sidewalk on right, buildings in background, c. 1960, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

 

Women of the Civil Rights Movement


In honor of Black History Month, below are some photographs of local women who aided in the struggle of Civil Rights, as seen through the lens of Charles “Teenie” Harris. In Teenie’s heyday, these ladies were quite instrumental and inspirational in the fight for racial equality. Their plight was most often displayed in a quiet yet unyielding push in education, social services, employment, charitable aid, medicine, and housing. As wives and mothers, their strength propelled them to build a better world, not only for themselves, but for the generations to come. We thank these pillars of society.

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Group portrait of NAACP workers, seated from left: Melusena Carl Whitlock, Lucy Robinson or Susan Fowler, Coretta Ogborne or Ogburn, John G. Jones, Romaine Jackson Childs; standing: Rev. Samuel L. Spear and Boyd L. Wilson, gathered around table for 1954 NAACP Membership Campaign, May 1954, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Men and women wearing name tags that read “NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference”, possibly including Peggy Lavelle standing second from left, and Alma Speed Fox seated second from right, at registration table, October 23-25, 1959, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Louis Mason Jr. of the NAACP presenting plaque to Edward Young, Program director of KDKA, wearing eyeglasses, with inscription “Radio Station KDKA…National Association for the Advancement of Colored People”, with Rosa Parks standing between them, 1958, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Eight women, members of the Alpha Sigma Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, modeling suits, left to right, seated: Barbara Pollard, Amelia Dobbs, and Barbara Alston Clark; standing: June Gibson, Patricia Yancey, Patricia Prattis, Jewel Clark Taylor, and Linda Pollard, posed for youth fashion show at Carnegie Institute of Technology, another version, June 1962, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Thelma Lovette, Andrea Williams, and Nadine Woodward, gathered at table for Sequoires Tri Hi-Y Club meeting in Centre Avenue YMCA, February 1962, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Fourteen women, including Marilyn Ware [Parker], Coretta Osbourne, Alma Speed Fox, ? Hall, and Dolores Stanton in back row, NAACP Women’s Auxiliary members, posed in interior with floral bouquet wallpaper, another version, 1967, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Group portrait of Judge Henry Smith, Marion Bond Jordon, Daisy Lampkin, possibly Margie Walton, and Bishop Charles Foggie, standing in interior with vent in ceiling, c. 1945-1960, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Portrait of Alma Speed Fox wearing dark double breasted suit with striped scarf, leading hand on back of metal folding chair, 1970, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Group portrait from left: C. Dolores Tucker, Alma Speed presenting “Daisy Lampkin Award” bowl to Wilhelmina Byrd Brown, and Mary Gloster, at Women’s Auxiliary of NAACP dinner dance, Roosevelt Hotel, February 1967, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Group portrait of five women, Mai Ratcliffe, Mabel Bookert, Mary Jane Page, Elizabeth Younge, and Miriam Fountain, posed behind table for initiation into Links Club, in home of Daisy Lampkin with floral wallpaper, June 1953, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Group portrait of unknown man, Marion Bond Jordon, Rev. LeRoy Patrick, and Rev. Charles Foggie at podium, on stage at Soldier’s and Sailor’s Memorial Hall for NAACP protest rally, October 1955, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Group portrait including, seated left to right, Jessie Vann, Atty. Henry Smith, Irving Beauford, Matthew Moore, Florence J. Reizenstein, and Sylvester Anderson, standing from left to right, Louis Mason Jr., Theodore Jones, and Clarence “Larry” Huff, gathered around banquet table for the NAACP Human Rights dinner, October-November 1957, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Mary Alexander, Daisy E. Lampkin, Dorothy Height, and Mary White, gathered for Pittsburgh Council of Negro Women event at Warren Methodist Church, May 1958, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

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Group portrait, seated from left: Mrs. Albert Goldsmith, Florence J. Reizenstein, Mrs. O. S. Bond, Charlene Foggie, Mrs. Sari Patton, Mrs. Harold Jones, Mrs. William Frederick; standing: Mrs. J. P. Howell, Bernice Utterback, Charlotte Primas, Alma Pulliam, Mrs. B. Dykes, Mrs. William Goode, Mrs. William Morgan, Aileen Sawyer, Marion Bond Jordon, Mrs. H. Morrison, Marie Robinson, Mrs. Robert Lavelle, Hazel Garland, Mrs. LuGene Bray, Mrs. Leslie Shelton, Mrs. E. Burley, and Madeline Sharpe Foggie, gathered in garden of Jordon home, Andover Terrace, September 1961, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

Group portrait of two men, and fifteen women, including seated: Mrs. Abraham Lincoln, second on left, Mary McLeod Bethune, center, and Jessie Vann, second from left; and standing: Wilhelmina Byrd Brown, second on left, Alma Illery, center, and Alma Polk, right, possibly at banquet for the Pittsburgh Branch of the National Council of Negro Women, c. 1949, black and white: Agfa Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Group portrait of two men, and fifteen women, including seated: Mrs. Abraham Lincoln, second on left, Mary McLeod Bethune, center, and Jessie Vann, second from left; and standing: Wilhelmina Byrd Brown, second on left, Alma Illery, center, and Alma Polk, right, possibly at banquet for the Pittsburgh Branch of the National Council of Negro Women, c. 1949 black and white: Agfa Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund