Tag Archives: Photographs

Brimley Collection Online

[This blog post was written by Kim Andersen, Audio Visual Materials Archivist in the Special Collections Section of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Photo of H.H. BrimleyThe State Archives is thrilled to announce the debut of our Brimley Collection online.  The Brimley Collection is one of our oldest and most interesting collections and thanks to the dedicated hard work of Ian Dunn of the Audiovisual Materials Unit and Olivia Carlisle and Francesca Evans of the Digital Services Branch, it is available in its entirety on the Web.  The photographs in this collection document many aspects of life in the state in the pivotal era between the late 19th and mid-20th century and include people both common and renowned, scenes of cities and towns, rural landscapes and farms, agricultural activities and products of every variety found in North Carolina, industrial concerns, and much much more.

The Brimley Collection is named for Herbert Hutchinson Brimley, the first leader of The North Carolina State Museum of Natural History.  That museum was at the time an all-encompassing state museum that included history, art, and science.  It later evolved and morphed into separate entities – the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, the State Archives of North Carolina, the NC Museum of History, and the NC Museum of Art – all of which operate under an umbrella governance and exist today.

Herbert Hutchinson Brimley was born in Willington, Bedfordshire, England, on March 7, 1861, the son of Joseph and Harriet Brimley.  He received his formal education at the Bedford County School in Elstow, England, where he excelled in mathematics and sports. In December 1880, he immigrated with his parents and siblings to Raleigh, NC.  Interestingly, young H. H. Brimley’s first night in the city of Raleigh was spent in the National Hotel, the building bought the following year for the new home of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture which would become the site of Brimley’s work for the next 60 years.

Following unsuccessful attempts at farming and teaching, Brimley and his brother Clement opened a taxidermy and biological supply company in Raleigh, where they quickly gained an international reputation as the leading naturalists of their day in the South.  In 1884 the North Carolina Department of Agriculture commissioned Brimley to prepare a display of waterfowl and fishes for the State Centennial Exposition, and in 1892–93 he supervised the North Carolina zoological exhibition at the Chicago World’s Fair.  In 1893 the Department of Agriculture designated two rooms in its office building as the North Carolina State Museum, for the permanent display of the exhibits assembled by Brimley, and on April 15, 1895, Brimley was appointed curator of the new museum, a post he held until 1928, when his title was changed to director. He served as director until 1937, when he became curator of zoology for the museum, a position he retained until his death. During the fifty years of his leadership, the institution grew into one of the best-known state museums in the United States, containing an outstanding collection of animal, plant, and geological specimens from the southeastern United States.

Two photographers taking photosDuring his years of service with the State Museum, Brimley assembled North Carolina displays at various national and international expositions. In preparation of his exhibits for the various shows, he traveled and took photographs throughout North Carolina to capture scenes for display in his exhibits.  H.H. Brimley took the majority of the photographs in the collection himself, and he was involved in all aspects of the work in which the photographs were used. The photographs in the Brimley Collection were used in the state’s exhibits at numerous expositions and shows as well as within the museum itself and in state publications over the years.

When Brimley died in 1946 at the age of 85, he was still an active state employee and after his death, the photographs remained at the Museum of Natural History for in-house use by the museum staff.  In 1962 with space at a premium and with the knowledge that the collection was too valuable and parts of it too old to continue to be used as an active reference file, the Museum of Natural History transferred the collection to the State Archives for permanent preservation.  Archivists created a detailed finding aid cataloging the collection at that time.

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This collection is arranged alphabetically by topic, beginning with Agriculture and ending with World War II.  At the end are two boxes of unidentified lantern slides (1900s-1920s), seven folders containing correspondence and miscellaneous items (1898-1979), and several boxes of oversized prints. Most of the photographs in the collection are black and white, but a few of the oversized prints are hand colored.  Description of the collection is to the folder level under each subject heading.

We invite you to enjoy this great body of work, and please let us know what questions you may have.

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Fund the work of Raleigh’s Photo History Detective, Karl Larson

[This blog post was written by Kim Andersen, Audio Visual Materials Archivist in the Special Collections Section of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Photo of Karl LarsonThe State Archives of North Carolina collects photographs as an important and popular part of the Archives’ mission. Proper identification is key to their accessibility and usefulness. A significant number of the photographs in our collections are only marginally labeled, and some are completely unknown. We are raising money to fund the work of local historian Karl Larson, who is instrumental in our researching and identifying the unidentified photographs in our holdings.

Karl is an expert on the history of Raleigh, especially the built environment. He has a unique knowledge base that is perfectly suited to identifying photos in two of the largest and most valuable collections here in the State Archives—the Albert Barden Photo Collection and The News & Observer (N&O) Negatives. Both of these collections are heavily populated with Raleigh and Raleigh-related images but arrived to the State Archives with sparse or nonexistent descriptions.

There is no appropriated funding for Karl’s work. For many months he has graciously continued to work as a volunteer; however, that is not a sustainable situation long-term for him or for us. The Friends of the Archives, the State Archives of North Carolina’s support foundation, is seeking to raise $9,000, which will fund his position for an entire year!

Please help us continue this work by making a donation today!

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Jack Benny USO Show Photographs, August 1945

[This blog post was written by Matthew Peek, Military Collection Archivist for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Snapshot of comedian Jack Benny, wearing a leather trench coat, pictured standing in front of the steps of Schloss Wilhelmshöhe

Snapshot of comedian Jack Benny, wearing a leather trench coat, pictured standing in front of the steps of Schloss Wilhelmshöhe—the U.S. Military Government district headquarters—in Kassel, Germany, around August 1945. Benny was on a six-week USO show tour of U.S. military posts in Europe with Ingrid Bergman and Larry Adler. [WWII 73.B5.F5.3], Military Collection, State Archives of North Carolina.

The Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina would like to share an interesting find discovered while processing a new collection. Robert J. Pleasants of Wake County, North Carolina, served in the U.S. Navy from 1932 to 1934; in World War II with the U.S. Army with the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) from 1944 to 1946 in Europe; and is believed to be the longest-serving Wake County sheriff (1946-1978).

From May 1945 to March 1946, Pleasants was stationed in the Kassel District of Germany, under the U.S. Office of Military Government during the occupation of Germany. He was in the Food and Agriculture Section, responsible for managing and developing food and agriculture supplies, assisting with the growth and planting of crops, and dispersing food to the peoples of Germany in the midst of a massive food shortage at the end of World War II.

Snapshot of movie actress Ingrid Bergman (middle, sitting) and world-famous harmonica player Larry Adler (left, sitting), sitting in a U.S. Military Government car.

Snapshot of movie actress Ingrid Bergman (middle, sitting) and world-famous harmonica player Larry Adler (left, sitting), sitting in a U.S. Military Government car for the Kassel district in Germany around August 1945. The car is parked next to Schloss Wilhelmshöhe, the U.S. Military Government district headquarters. Bergman and Adler were on a six-week Jack Benny USO show tour of U.S. military posts. [WWII 73.B5.F5.4], Military Collection, State Archives of North Carolina.

I am in the midst of processing, organizing, describing, and preserving Robert Pleasants’ papers. During the processing of a collection, you never know for sure what you are going to find, whether it be a rare document, a personal letter, or a just lot of collectible postcards from another country. You never really know the historical significance of the materials until you go through them systematically, in order that researchers end up with a collection that is arranged to allow easy access and described well enough for people to find all sorts of things they may be looking for.

While working on Pleasants’ papers, I came across several photographs that I had to do some research. Pleasants himself typed descriptions on the back of the images after the war, but you still have to check. Turns out they are three photographs of Jack Benny, movie star Ingrid Bergman, and Larry Adler (one of the world’s best harmonica players). The three performers were in Kassel, Germany, in August 1945 as part of the Jack Benny USO Show, which was conducted over six weeks throughout the summer of 1945 as a morale boost to the wearied U.S. troops in Germany.

Robert Pleasants, as an officer in the U.S. Military Government’s offices in Kassel, helped tour Benny, Bergman, and Adler around in military vehicles while they were performing for the troops there. These three photographs show the three individuals in candid moments around the time of their performances, and offer us a look at a remarkable period in the history of WWII.

Snapshot of movie actress Ingrid Bergman (right) and world-famous harmonica player Larry Adler (left), sitting in a U.S. Military Government car

Snapshot of movie actress Ingrid Bergman (right) and world-famous harmonica player Larry Adler (left), sitting in a U.S. Military Government car for the Kassel district in Germany around August 1945, shown while they were signing autographs. The car is parked next to Schloss Wilhelmshöhe, the U.S. Military Government district headquarters. Bergman and Adler were on a six-week Jack Benny USO show tour of U.S. military posts. [WWII 73.B5.F5.5], Military Collection, State Archives of North Carolina.

Women’s History Month: Mary Bayard Morgan Wootten

[This blog post was written by Kim Andersen, Audio Visual Materials Archivist in the Special Collections Section of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

It’s Women’s History month! Today we highlight photographer Bayard Wootten.

Bayard Wootten posing near sand dunes at Nags head, NC,

Bayard Wootten posing near sand dunes at Nags head, NC, Dare County, c.1920’s. Courtesy Ms Louise Morgan, Brevard, NC. (N_95_1_68) From the General Negatives, State Archives of NC.

Mary Bayard Morgan Wootten (1875–1959) was an American photographer and pioneering suffragist born in New Bern, N.C. Also a competent painter, she is credited with designing the first trademarked logo for Pepsi-Cola. Wootten was adventurous and unflinching in all aspects of her life, especially business. She owned several photography studios and was known to set out on solo trips across the state in her 1920s Ford to photograph North Carolina’s people and landscapes.  She continued to photograph well into her seventies and operated her photo studio until 1954. A trailblazer for women photographers in the South, Wootten overcame economic hardship, gender discrimination, and the obscurity of a small-town upbringing to become the state’s most significant early female photographer. She died in 1959 in Chapel Hill at the age of 83.

Wootten was adventurous in finding new angles for images, once dangling off a cliff to take the perfect photograph of Linville Falls. In 1914 she became one of the first female photographers to engage in aerial photography when she flew in an open-air Wright Brothers Model B airplane and took pictures of the landscape below.  She was also the first woman in the North Carolina National Guard.

Photographer Bayard Wootten with camera in front of cypress tree in Great Lake, Craven County, NC, 1909

Photographer Bayard Wootten with camera in front of cypress tree in Great Lake, Craven County, NC, 1909. Photo by H. H. Brimley. (PhC42_Bx16_Great Lake_F1-2) From the H. H. Brimley Photo Collection, PhC.42, State Archives of NC.

Originally trained as an artist, Wootten worked in photography’s pictorial tradition, emphasizing artistic effect in her images at a time when realistic and documentary photography increasingly dominated the medium. Traveling throughout North Carolina and surrounding states, she turned the artistry of her eye and lens on the people and places she encountered and is perhaps best known for her photographs of people living in impoverished rural areas in her home state of North Carolina.

Many of her photographs were used as illustrations for six books, including Backwoods America by Charles Morrow Wilson, 1934; Cabins in the Laurel by Muriel Sheppard, 1935; Old Homes and Gardens of North Carolina by Archibald Henderson, 1939; and From My Highest Hill by Olive Tilford Dargan, 1941.  UNC-Chapel Hill’s Wilson Library is home to the Bayard Morgan Wootten Photographic Collection which includes over 90,000 images and other materials created by Bayard Morgan Wootten and the Wootten-Moulton studios. Formats include glass negatives, film negatives, photographic prints, lantern slides, artwork, and some manuscript materials.  The State Archives of North Carolina houses only a few copies of some pieces of her work, but is fortunate to have several original photographs of Wootten working with H. H. Brimley photographing in eastern North Carolina in the first decade of the 20th century.

For more complete biographical information on Bayard Wootten, please see:

Albert Barden Photograph Collection Finding Aid Online

[This blog post was written by Kim Andersen, Audio Visual Materials Archivist in the Special Collections Section of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Photographer Albert Barden with his sisters, Daisy and Violet, c. 1910.

Photographer Albert Barden is seen with his sisters, Daisy (left) and Violet (right) c. 1910. If you look closely, you can see that Albert is taking the picture. In his hand is a cable release–a corded device used to activate the shutter of the camera. Call number: N.53.16.5173 From the Albert Barden Collection, State Archives of NC; Raleigh, NC.

Audiovisual Materials staff Kim Andersen, Ian F. G. Dunn, and Karl Larson are very excited to announce that the finding aid for the Barden collection has been completed and published online!

The Albert Barden Photograph Collection consists of over 18,000 individual negatives created by Albert Barden (21 October 1888–2 October 1953), a commercial photographer in Raleigh, N.C., between 1908 and 1953.  This wonderful collection contains a wealth of subject matter including studio portraiture, advertisements, street scenes, municipal buildings, residential homes, neighborhoods, and editorial work and is one of the most used and beloved collections in the State Archives of North Carolina.

Pictured is a group of Raliegh City officials holding Yo-Yos on the steps of City Hall c. 1930.

Pictured is a group of city officials holding Yo-Yos on the steps of City Hall c. 1930. Seen on left, slightly facing group, is the inventor of the modern Yo-Yo–Pedro Flores. This photograph was probably taken as he passed through Raleigh on one of his yo-yo competition tours. The faces in the group stare forward, alight with the novelty and frivolity of this little toy during a heavy time of unrest and worry. N.53.17.520 From the Albert Barden Collection, State Archives of NC; Raleigh, NC.

The publishing of this finding aid concludes one leg and begins another of what has been an exciting journey through time for this collection.  It all began for us with the initial donation to the North Carolina Museum of History upon Albert Barden’s death in 1953.  Fast forward to the 1970s when the collection was transferred to the State Archives, catalogued on index cards, copied to then-standard 4” x 5” film negatives, and made available to the public for research and enjoyment.  Then came the dawn of the digital age, and in the early 2000s the original Barden negatives—spectacular oversized film and glass negatives—were scanned in what was arguably the first mass digitization project undertaken at the State Archives!  Even then, however, there was no actual finding aid—only the archaic card catalog and a cryptic database documenting the scans.  There was no collection description, no biography of Albert Barden, and no comprehensive online presence.  And the oversized original negatives simply languished back in their file cabinets after being scanned.  Fortunately, by 2014, the AV Materials Unit had Ian on board, and with meticulous skill and tireless dedication, he rehoused all the original Barden negatives and created this beautiful finding aid:

http://ead.archives.ncdcr.gov/PHC_BARDEN_Albert_Barden_Photog_.html

Western Union employees are seen posing in front of their workplace on Fayetteville Street in Raleigh c. 1915

Western Union employees are seen posing in front of their workplace on Fayetteville Street in Raleigh c. 1915. N.53.15.9745
From the Albert Barden Collection, State Archives of NC; Raleigh, NC.

Thanks to Ian’s countless hours of devotion and to the enhanced descriptions he and part-time researcher Karl Larson put together, it is the dawn of a new day for this collection.  And now that the finding aid is online providing item-level descriptions of everything in the collection, over the course of the next several months more of the scanned images will be put online.  The ultimate goal is to eventually have the entire Barden Collection described and available digitally to the world.  Please watch for updates on that progress here in this blog.

Treasures of Carolina: Summer Edition

Each week this summer we will highlight an item from our North Carolina Digital Collections in hopes of inspiring you to discover new-to-you materials. For the month of June our theme is vacations!

 It’s summertime in North Carolina, and that means vacation time! All North Carolinians know that our state has hundreds of amazing vacation destinations. From the mountains to the sea, for a long weekend or a whole month, N.C. has much to offer travelers with every kind of interest. Of course, at the State Archives, we are especially interested in the history of North Carolina, and there are dozens of historical sites, museums, archives, events, and parks around the state that cater to inquisitive minds. Our Treasure this week features the Mountainside Theatre in Cherokee, N.C., where the outdoor drama Unto these Hills has been performed for over 60 years.

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Mountainside Theatre for “Unto These Hills,” Cherokee, N.C., ca. 1950s. Department of Conservation and Development Records, Division of Travel Information, Photograph File. MARS 44.47

Sponsored by the Cherokee Historical Association, and first performed in the summer of 1950, Unto These Hills recounts the history of the Cherokee people from their origins, through European colonization, the Revolutionary War, the Trail of Tears, and into the present day. The photographs featured here were created by the North Carolina Travel Information Division in the 1950s. They shows four views of the historic Mountainside Theatre where Unto These Hills is still performed every summer. The theatre is located on the Cherokee Reservation in western N.C. Additional pictures of this outdoor drama and the Reservation can be found at the Historic North Carolina Travel and Tourism Photos collection at NCDC. Additional information about Unto These Hills, and other historical outdoor dramas in North Carolina, can be found at this NCpedia page.

AV Materials Instagram

[This blog post was written by Kim Andersen, Audio Visual Materials Archivist in the Special Collections Section of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Sherman M. Jones standing in the doorway of his shoe shop at 212 East Davie Street in Raleigh. Learn more on Instagram.

Sherman M. Jones standing in the doorway of his shoe shop at 212 East Davie Street in Raleigh. Learn more on Instagram.

The State Archives of North Carolina AV Materials Unit is happy to announce that we are now sharing photos via Instagram!  My colleague Ian FG Dunn is spearheading this initiative and will be posting a lot of fascinating historical photographs from the collections as well as photos of our work in progress, of hidden gems uncovered as we process collections, and documenting exciting new acquisitions!  If you are interested in what we have in our holdings, how our work is going, and what treasures are coming through our doors every day, then please follow us on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/nc_archives_photos/, and if you have questions or input please let us know.