Category Archives: Teenie Harris Archive

Architecture + Teenie Harris


Charles "Teenie" Harris," Dramatic sky seen from Penn Avenue near Homewood, c. 1943,  gelatin silver print, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund, 1996.69.224 © 2006 Teenie Harris Archive

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Dramatic sky seen from Penn Avenue near Homewood, c. 1943, gelatin silver print, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund, 1996.69.224 © 2006 Teenie Harris Archive

Teenie Harris is perhaps best known for his ability to photograph people and capture their spectrum of expressions as well as truthfully document their life events. He was surrounded by family, friends, and a large community who seemed to be drawn to him and offered their trust to his lens, as well as frequently “photobombed” the margins of his frame while he was on assignment.

But Harris also had a keen eye for architecture and the urban landscape—he was known to have a deep love for the city of Pittsburgh, and at times it seems as if the city itself was another member of his community. His landscape and architectural images show the same intimacy and the deliberate and careful composition that he used when photographing children playing in the street or a family being evicted from their home. Continue reading

Teenie Harris’s Pastime


Charles "Teenie" Harris, Charles "Teenie" Harris, wearing riding attire, seated on horse and patting the horse's neck, possibly in Schenley Park, with Adirondack chair in background, c. 1935-1940, black and white: unknown safety film, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund, 2001.35.8715 © 2006 Teenie Harris Archive

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Charles “Teenie” Harris, wearing riding attire, seated on horse and patting the horse’s neck, possibly in Schenley Park, with Adirondack chair in background, c. 1935-1940, black and white: unknown safety film, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund, 2001.35.8715 © 2006 Teenie Harris Archive

When we talk to people who knew Teenie Harris personally we hear the same thing over and over again: Teenie was everywhere, always taking pictures. We asked his family if he ever slept since the other part of taking pictures required long hours in the darkroom. They said he managed to keep on going with his trademark positive energy despite little sleep at times. Then we wondered, what about his down time, did he ever put down the camera? Continue reading

Thelma Lovette YMCA


ymca2On Saturday February 15, 2014, the Thelma Lovette YMCA in Pittsburgh’s Hill District celebrated its second year with an outstanding Black History month event, centering on the theme “From Which We Came.” The Teenie Harris Archive was invited to display the myriads of photos which Teenie shot in and around the old Centre Avenue YMCA, bearing witness that this original community center was, in fact, the “hub of the Hill” in its heyday.

IMG_0674

Established in 1923, it was noted that the first YMCA (at the Corner of Centre Avenue and Francis Street) opened before both the NAACP and the Urban League held branches in Pittsburgh. The many distinguished speakers discussed the fact that the YMCA had been THE place to meet for not just sports events, but organization meetings, society soirees, cotillions, youth groups, plays, and much more. Dr. Leon Haley, who has written a book on the history of the Centre Avenue YMCA, gave an insightful presentation on what went on in the Y, for many decades. There was a Black Civil War Drum Corps reenactment led by John Ford, a performance by the Miller School of African Dance and Drum Troop, as well as elected officials such as city councilman Daniel Lavelle and Bill Robinson giving commendations. Thelma Lovette YMCA executive director, Aaron Gibson, gave a wonderful speech voicing both his, and other board members hopes—that the new facility will come to reflect the positive community bonding of the older facility.

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Capt. Charles B. Hall standing in convertible car between Joseph M. Guffey and David L. Lawrence in Independence Day parade, with broadside on telephone pole in background advertising Louis Jordan at the Savoy, on Centre Avenue at Francis Street in front of YMCA, Hill District, July 4, 1945, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund, 2001.35.9794 © 2006 Teenie Harris Archive

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Capt. Charles B. Hall standing in convertible car between Joseph M. Guffey and David L. Lawrence in Independence Day parade, with broadside on telephone pole in background advertising Louis Jordan at the Savoy, on Centre Avenue at Francis Street in front of YMCA, Hill District, July 4, 1945, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund, 2001.35.9794 © 2006 Teenie Harris Archive

In the coming months, the Teenie Harris Archive will have a permanent display of several historic images on the internal walls of the new Y. However, for this event, the Harris Archive displayed 4 poster boards with over 70 images (and two notebooks with even more images) of people enjoying the facilities of the old Y. One book centered solely on Teenie Harris capturing the philanthropic work of Mrs. Thelma Lovette in his lens. As a result of our display and chatting with guests, the Harris Archive received more than 30 new identifications of people and events. Many were very sentimental about the images of swimmers, basketball games, ping pong and boxing matches, dance classes, voter registration drives, and teen parties. I even found one of my own mother, doing “calisthenics” in the 1940s. Patrons were eager to share their treasured memories of what they loved about going to the Y. (I was particularly amused to hear about the many courtships begun at this central location.) So once again I’m happy to say the Teenie Harris Archive offered insight and reflection on a most historic Pittsburgh venue.

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Group portrait, from left, seated: James F. Clarke, Thelma Lovette, Theodore "Ted" Brown, K. Leroy Irvis, and William Finch; standing: Leroy Wilcox and William E. "Bill" Miller, gathered in interior with leaf patterned curtains and mirror during primary election campaign, April 1958, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund, 2001.35.47750 © 2006 Teenie Harris Archive

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Group portrait, from left, seated: James F. Clarke, Thelma Lovette, Theodore “Ted” Brown, K. Leroy Irvis, and William Finch; standing: Leroy Wilcox and William E. “Bill” Miller, gathered in interior with leaf patterned curtains and mirror during primary election campaign, April 1958, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund, 2001.35.47750 © 2006 Teenie Harris Archive

Father Donald McIlvane, Dec. 19, 1925–Feb. 16, 2014


mcilvane1

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Group portrait of four men, including reporter to left, Reverend Jimmy Joe Robinson, William “Bouie” Haden, second from right, and Reverend Donald McIlvane on right, outside large church or city building, July–August 1967, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund, 2001.35.4693 © 2006 Teenie Harris Archive

The Rev. Donald McIlvane, a retired Roman Catholic priest and staunch ally to the underserved, passed away February 16, 2014. Father McIlvane was not only a worldwide religious leader, but unquestionably, a compassionate Civil Rights soldier, as well. Although Rev. McIlvane was an unlikely candidate to become a radical priest, having come from a well-to-do family, he served and lived alongside the needy, suffering many similar life experiences, even to the point of being mugged.

mcilvane5

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, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund, 2001.35.5867 © 2006 Teenie Harris Archive

mcilvane4

Protesters, including Rev. Donald McIlvane, and other ministers, picketing slum housing in front of Rittle Rosfeld Real Estate Company, East Street near intersection of Shawano, with Weimer Tire, Four Roses billboard, and Veebee’s Cafe in background, North Side, 1967, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund, 2001.35.7113 © 2006 Teenie Harris Archive

He was once quoted as saying “Martin Luther King had more influence on me than any leader in my life.” In fact he was so influenced by Dr. King, that he joined him in Civil Rights protests nationwide. His human rights efforts spanned six decades, including monitoring South Africa’s post-apartheid election, to which Nelson Mandela became the first democratically elected leader.

Here in Pittsburgh, Rev. McIlvane was often seen in his clerical collar, taking part in meetings, hearings, rallies, or protest marches—all in the quest for human rights. On a personal note, I knew Father McIlvane as a youngster. I remember how diligently he worked beside my father and other local Civil Rights leaders. He impressed me as a person who would do anything to see that justice was given to everyone, be they young, old, white, black, rich or poor—he loved all people, and they felt that from him. Teenie Harris captures the essence of this dedicated servant in these dynamic photographs.

mcilvane3

Nannie L. Carrington and Houston Dargan carrying signs reading “We protest discriminatory seniority units at U.S. Steel”, with Father Donald McIlvane in background, leading picketers against segregation at U.S. Steel in front of Union Trust building, on Grant Street, downtown, June 1966, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund, 2001.35.5826 © 2006 Teenie Harris Archive

mcilvane6

The 2900 Webster Avenue Block Club including in front row: Mrs. McClanahan, Lena Davis, Thelma Lovette, Lucille Anderson, Jessie Lyons, Georgia Murray, and Norvie Dolphin; back row: James Reynolds, Beatrice Bankstown, Father McIlvane, and Emily Davis at the Davis house at 2931 Webster Avenue, Hill District, 1966, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund, 2001.35.13088 © 2006 Teenie Harris Archive

mcilvane7

Bride Victoria Janice Brown wearing pillbox style headpiece with mid length veil, and groom Leon Bryan Jr. wearing eyeglasses, facing Elder Nelson A. Bliss and Father Donald W. McIlvane, gathered at altar in St. Richard Roman Catholic Church, July 1966, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund, 2001.35.19625 © 2006 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.”