Guide to the Jesse Pyrant Andrews Photographs and Oral Histories, 1973-2014 and undated
Jesse Pyrant Andrews is a photojournalist and regional documentary photographer working primarily in Virginia and North Carolina. The collection houses 159 black-and-white photographic prints dating from 1973 to 2014, the majority of which document rural and small-town life in the Piedmont plateau of southern Virginia and northern North Carolina. There are portraits of farmers, their families, Latino workers, and other local people, and scenes from homesteads and farms. Themes include farming, tobacco cultivation, and tobacco auctions; activities such as music-making, dancing, hunting, making handmade firearms, and working with hides and leather. Many of the prints speak to the changing status of regional economies and businesses in rural and small-town Virginia and North Carolina in the late 20th century. Additional projects include a series of portraits of U.S. military veterans; a small series on former employees of a shuttered Burlington Mills textile plant in Halifax, Virginia; views from an Amtrak train during a trip from New York City to Lynchburg, Virginia. Other prints in the collection feature street scenes and portraits of individuals taken in New York City, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Tennessee, and California; there are also a few abstract images of plants and one of ice on a pond. Oral history interviews on seven CDs also accompany the Burlington Mills and Virginia portraits projects. Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.
- Collection Number
- Jesse Pyrant Andrews photographs and oral histories
- 1973-2014 and undated
- Andrews, Jesse
- 6.5 Linear Feet, 7 boxes; 159 prints; 7 CDs; 2 mp3 files, 159 prints; 7 CDs; 2 mp3 files
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Material in English
- 13-Month Crop Series, 2000-2001
- Bill Davis and Davis Family Series, 1976-2006 and undated
- Portraits Series, 1977-2008
- View from Amtrak Northeast Regional, Train #147, Train Project Series, 2010
- Virginia Photographs Series, 1976-2014 and undated
- Burlington Mills Series, 2013-2014
- Other Prints, 1973-2010
The collection comprises 159 gelatin silver process prints dating from 1973 to 2014, through which photographer Jesse Andrews documents rural and small-town life in the Piedmont plateau of southern Virginia and northern North Carolina. The black-and-white images portray farmers, their families, Latino workers, and other local people, and scenes from their homesteads and farms. Themes include farming, tobacco cultivation, and tobacco auctions; activities such as music-making, dancing, hunting, creating handmade firearms, tanning animal hides, and braiding leather; the lives and struggles of American war veterans; the closing of a textile mill and the effects on its former employees; and the changing status of regional economies, businesses, and lifestyles in rural and small-town Virginia in the late 20th century. The great majority of the prints measure 11x 14 inches.
A set of six oral histories conducted by Andrews contribute to his efforts to document the lives of former employees of the shuttered Burlington Mill plant in Halifax, Virginia, and the lives of disabled U.S. military veterans also around Halifax.
Two related bodies of documentary work whose images form part of the Virginia Photographs Series are the Disabled Veterans and the Carter-Wooding projects. The first examines the lives and struggles of U.S. war veterans and includes recorded oral histories associated with several of the men. The second project documents the history of two families and their Virginia farm in Halifax County, which dates back to an original 18th-century land grant. Additional projects in the collection include a series of images taken by Andrews from an Amtrak train during a trip from New York City to Lynchburg, Virginia, and street scenes and portraits of individuals taken in New York City, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Tennessee, and California. The collection also includes several abstract images of plants and one of ice on a pond.
In many cases the photographs are accompanied by captions written by the photographer commenting on the individuals, their life histories, and aspects of regional or local culture. Original identification numbers and titles assigned by the photographer were retained and a Rubenstein Library id added. The original identifier on the back of each print indicates series, negative file, and negative number, i.e., POR-3-47-9, meaning the Portrait Series, notebook 3, page 47, negative 9. There are a few unnumbered prints. Titles in brackets were supplied by library staff when there was no known title.
Photographs from the series documenting tobacco farming, 13-Month Crop, were selected for a 2002 exhibit of Andrew's work hosted by the Rubenstein Library at Duke University.
Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.
Arranged in the following series: 13-Month Crop, 2000-2001; Bill Davis and Davis Family, 1976-2006; Portraits, 1977-2008; Train Project, 2010; Virginia Photographs, 1976-2014 and undated; Burlington Mills, 2013-2014; and Other Prints, 1973-2010.
Access to the Collection
Collection is open for research, but is restricted to educational, non-commercial use. Photographer retains all copyrights and must be contacted for any other use. The oral histories require advance preparation for access.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.
Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.
Use & Permissions
The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], Jesse Pyrant Andrews photographs and oral histories, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Series comprises 11x14 inch black-and-white prints exhibited at Duke University's Perkins Library, August 7-December 14, 2002. Andrews spent one tobacco farming season, April 2000 to April 2001, photographing the people who cultivate tobacco on the Moore family farm in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. Images portray family members as well as Hispanic farmworkers. Tobacco farming is such labor-intensive work that it is often called a "13-month crop." All titles and captions in this series were supplied by the photographer. Original print numbers have been retained. Prints are arranged in original order as received.
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_1_34
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_1_20
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_5_33
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_6_19
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_3_24A_25
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_3_18A_19
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_3_9
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_4_2
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_4_11
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_4_8
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_5_24
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_5_29A_30
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_6_32
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_2_22
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_6_5
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_2_29A_30
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_6_24
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_1_6
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_2_9A_10
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_5_36
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_3_22
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_1_31
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_6_26
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_5_6
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_6_22
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_2_32
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_3_28
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_1_30
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_2_19
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_1_36
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_5_30
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_5_20
Orig. print number: JA_13MCA_6_25
Series is made up of 18 11x14 inch black-and-white prints, the majority of which feature portraits of Bill and Nat Davis, brothers from an established rural family from the Piedmont plateau region of Pittsylvania County in south-central Virginia. Images range from the landscapes and sites around this family farm to the portraits of the two brothers Bill and Nat. One image includes a sister, Nancy Paige Davis. There are several images of Bill's burial and gravesite.
Titles and captions were supplied by the photographer; information in brackets supplied by library staff. Original print numbers are noted. Organized in original order as received.
Orig. print number: JA_POR_88_20
Bill learned to braid leather when he was a child. His father did not want him to learn that craft so he would take the strands of leather under the covers of his bed at night and practice braiding simply by feel. He could do any sort of braid from the most simple to making what he called a "rosette," a round knot woven from 16 strands of leather, seemingly with no beginning or end.
Orig. print number: JA_POR_45_26A
The chair he is sitting in was made by his grandfather, Simeon Benton Davis.
Orig. print number: JA_POR_43_16A
Bill was much older than Nancy. When she turned 18, she wanted to attend the nursing school at the University of Virginia, but their father refused to pay for her to go. Bill eventually saved enough money to send her and she graduated in 1941. She never returned to the farm except to visit and lived in Richmond until her death in 2005. This image was made during her last visit to see Bill. She always referred to him as her “angel” and thus she was making a halo for him.
Orig. print number: JA_POR_88_38
Nat had been telling me about one of his first girlfriends. He was sad because he thought no one would ever care for him again.
Orig. print number: JA_POR_42_27
They knew hundreds of old time tunes as well as hymns and ballads.
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_14_XX
This is where Hat and Bill hunted and trapped their entire lives. Bill used to say that the mound in the background was an Indian burial place.
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_14_XX
This spring was where they got their water for nearly 100 years. It is now a mosquito breeding ground.
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_13_XX
Orig. print number: JA_POR_84_43
Bill was a friend of my grandmother. When I was a child, she would take me with her to visit the Davis farm. I knew the Davises very well. They are all dead now, their farm sold and is now a high-end housing development. The Davis family was a real link to the past. They never got accustomed to the Twentieth Century.
Orig. print number: JA_POR_42_24
Bill had gotten out his wool army uniform for cold weather.
Orig. print number: JA_POR_51_12A
Pictured are (from left) Calvin Daniel, Ricky Adkins, and Dennis Daniel. Calvin Daniel inherited the Davis farm. These men dug Bill's grave. They and I were the only people at the burial. Bill asked me to make this last image of him at the family cemetery.
Orig. print number: JA_POR_88_39
This is Bill Davis' brother.
Orig. print number: JA_POR_56_8ND
This was Nat's primary source of income. Occasionally he would trap a mink. Nat was also an avid turkey hunter.
Orig. print number: JA_POR_45_30
“Bill would tan fresh deer hides to use in his leather work. He made a device which would split a hide into evenly sized strips for braiding. He made belts, sashes, hat bands, watch fobs, key holders, and guitar straps. He also did harness repairs and remade worn out shoes. But the first step in this process was to pick all the flesh off the hide. If left, the bits of flesh would attract insects to eat the hide and leave uncured spots on the finished hide.”
Series consists of 11x14 inch black-and-white portraits of people from Virginia and North Carolina, including teenagers and fathers and mothers with their sons. Original print numbers and titles assigned by the photographer are retained. Arranged in rough chronological order as received.
Orig. print number: JA_POR_116_6
Orig. print number: JA_POR_41_14
Orig. print number: JA_POR_86_27
Orig. print number: JA_POR_106_12
Orig. print number: JA_4x5_PORTRAITS_9
These 31 11x14 inch images were taken by Jesse Andrews on November 19, 2010 using traditional black-and-white film during a train trip from New York City to Lynchburg, Virginia. Images were chiefly taken from the windows of the moving train and capture overpasses, traffic, graffiti, residential neighborhoods, train stations, and other urban landscapes; a few shots focus on train passengers and there is one of a railroad worker on the tracks.
Descriptive titles in brackets supplied by library staff. All prints were developed in 2011 and 2012. Original print numbers assigned by the photographer are retained.
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_110_3A_4
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_110_33
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_108_24
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_111_1A
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_109_12A
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_110_21_A
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_109_30A
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_108_17
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_108_37
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_111_6
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_111_7
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_111_30A
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_111_7A_8
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_111_25A_26
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_108_15
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_109_6A
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_111_36
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_108_27
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_108_30
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_108_19
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_108_25
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_108_24
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_111_13A
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_108_16
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_108_14
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_108_20
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_108_36
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_111_19A_20
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_109_5_A
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_109_14_A
Comprises 11x14 inch black-and-white portraits chiefly taken in the Halifax, Virginia area, primarily of farmers, forming part of the Carter-Wooding Project, and U.S. military veterans, part of the Veterans Project. Accompanying four of the portraits are oral history interviews conducted by Jesse Andrews, on CDs.
A note from the photographer on the the Carter-Wooding project: "The Carter-Wooding project is something I started in the late 1990s, documenting the 'old Carter farm' in Halifax County, where I now live. The property was originally a 5000-acre land grant from King George, divided into five parcels and given to the five (then) Carter brothers. As was common at that time, the Woodings and Carters intermarried over several generations, thus the name. The Woodings were prominent early settlers in both Halifax and Pittsylvania Counties. The Carters were prominent Virginia settlers since the beginning. The land grant extended from the Banister river, which borders the North side of Halifax (town), northward up what is now Rt. 501. It was probably little more than a footpath then. There are two fragments of the land grant remaining, one of them being a 200 acre parcel (the old Carter farm) and another smaller parcel located about a mile north of the other. One of them is owned by a friend of mine, who is in one of the photographs in the collection, an image of him standing in the doorway of the pack barn. His father is seated on the step in front of him. His father, Robert Wooding, died in 2004, and took a great deal of history with him. His son, Robbie (my friend) still lives on the farm and still grows a little dark-fired tobacco."
The prints are arranged in original order as received, roughly chronological, with original captions provided by Andrews. Original identification codes and titles assigned by the photographer have been retained.
The oral histories are open to research use. As they require additional preparation time for access, please contact the Rubenstein Library before coming to use these materials.
Orig. print number: JA_POR_52_6
Reid Carter was a mechanic who worked primarily on pulpwood trucks. He lived with his mother in a cabin without running water or electricity. When she died in 1982, at age 100, Reid lost his mind and was committed to a state mental institution in Staunton. He died a few months later.
Orig. print number: JA_POR_87_17
Red's was a gathering place for local outlaw bikers, the Scorpions. Red died in 2007.
Orig. print number: JA_POR_4x5_3
Ed Wemple grew up in Charlottesville and graduated from the University of Virginia. He wandered the country during the depression of the 1930s. He worked as a longshoreman in New York, in lumber camps in Oregon and eventually went to Mexico, where he became a heroin addict. He cured himself by walking from El Paso to the Oklahoma border. He returned to New York, where he lived until 1964, taking in the bohemian and jazz cultures and working at odd jobs. He returned to Charlottesville in 1964 and lived there until his death in 1987. I lived in the same house with him for a year. He had not had a bath in nine years and spent his time reading and sleeping. He went by taxi once a week to the Alderman Library to replenish his book supply. A wonderful man who had endless stories to tell about his life. I regret that I did not record any of our conversations.
Orig. print number: JA_POR_146_53
Print measures 9 7/8 x 7 7/8 inches. Oral history recording accompanies this print. Part of the Carter-Wooding project.
The oral history is available in mp3 format and is open to research use. As it requires advance preparation for access, please contact the Rubenstein Library before coming to use this material.
Orig. print number: JA_POR_77_19
Born Jan. 10, 1919 at Callands, Va. Grew up on a tobacco farm, enlisted in the Army in 1941, fought as an infantryman through North Africa, then as a Ranger through the Sicilian and Italian campaigns. Discharged November, 1945. Wounded three times in what he called "three years of continuous combat." As a Ranger he was usually at the forward most front of the fighting. He has suffered since his discharge with severe PTSD and alcoholism. In spite of that, as well as his physical wounds, he was a successful tobacco farmer until he retired in 1994. He lives on the same farm where he was born. Up to this time I have not been able to convince Mr. Aaron to agree to an oral history. When I made this photograph, he said, "I was a nice fellow when this picture was made (the portrait of himself he is holding), before I went overseas. Since then, I don't know, I just never have been the same." This is part of the Disabled Veterans series.
The oral history interview with Aaron was completed in 2012.
Orig. print number: JA_POR_51_35
Mrs. Maynard Amos operated Amos' General Store at Callands, Va. with her husband until he suffered a stroke in 1999. Since then she has run the store on her own. One of only a handful of such rural businesses still in operation, it remains a gathering place for local farmers and a source for gasoline, farm supplies, groceries, patent medicines, and just about anything else a person might need.
Orig. print number: JA_POR_41_16
Died of alcoholism, Oct., 2003. A close friend.
Orig. print number: JA_POR_49_28
Orig. print number: JA_POR_38_28
Orig. print number: JA_POR_49_19
He is the last farmer in Pittsylvania county to cure his tobacco with wood. This is practically a lost art, having been replaced almost completely with oil and propane curing by the mid 1970s.
Orig. print number: JA_POR_49_22
Born on this farm in 1930, one of sixteen children. His father was killed in a fall from a hay wagon in 1951.
Orig. print number: JA_POR_56_8LW
"Larry was the miller at this water-powered grist mill, which had been in continuous operation since the 1870s. He died in 2004 from a heart attack. A lifelong friend."
Orig. print number: JA_POR_40_13
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_148_15
Part of the Carter-Wooding project.
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_147_10
Musicians are Glenn Waller, Tim Peade, Ken Peade, and Robert Anderson. The child dancing is Mark Aaron. Carter-Wooding project.
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_100_27
Part of the Disabled Veterans Project.
Orig. print number: JA_SALES_7_25
This is the McFarland farm. They had become physically unable to continue farming.
Orig. print number: JA_POR_4x5_15
The oral history is open to research use. As it requires advance preparation for use, please contact the Rubenstein Library before coming to use this material.
Orig. print number: JA_POR_153_28
Donald Carter was a scout dog handler for the U.S. Army in Vietnam, 1969-1970. His dog was killed by a booby trap near the end of Carter's tour of duty. Mr. Carter is shown holding the wooden nameplate that hung on Rover's kennel.
This print is accompanied by an oral history interview on CD.
Part of the Veterans Series. An oral history CD accompanies this print.
The oral history is open for research use. As it requires advance preparation for access, please contact the Rubenstein Library before coming to use these materials
Orig. print number: JA_POR_151_28A
Don LaFlamme has been making custom muzzleloading rifles and pistols for over 40 years. The guns he makes are highly prized works of art as well as functional firearms.
An oral history CD accompanies this print.
The oral history is open for research use. As it requires advance preparation for access, please contact the Rubenstein Library before coming to use this material.
These portraits and the oral histories that accompany them form part of the Burlington Mills Project, which documents the lives of former employees of a Halifax, Virginia textile mill, and how they and their community have been affected by the mill's closure in 2002. The black-and-white prints measure 11x 14 inches, and are arranged in chronological order and then by original identifiers.
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_145_33
Orig. print number: JA_BUR_1_8
Lott Rogers, now a financial consultant in Halifax, Virginia, was the plant manager at the Halifax Burlington Mills fabric plant when that plant closed in 2002.
This print is accompanied by an oral history interview on CD.
Series houses twenty-seven 11x14 inch black-and-white images taken in New York State, California, North Carolina, and Massachusetts of street scenes, buildings, and individuals. In addition to documentary images, there are several abstract images of plants, as well as a few of houses in unidentified locations, and one of ice on a pond. Arranged in chronological order. Several prints are unnumbered. Information in brackets is supplied by library staff; original identification codes and titles assigned by the photographer are retained.
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_44_27
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_44_4A
Orig. print number: JA_POR_40_9
“This woman operated a tiny bakery with the help of her son in the Italian section of Boston. They made marzipan, cannolis, and other pastries, as well as several kinds of bread, all wonderful.”
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_121_5A. Elderly woman standing in front of a store holding a tract titled "AWAKE."
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_4_34. Children playing in the courtyard of an apartment building.
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_44_5A. Clothesline with clothes hanging on it, with a garden beneath.
Orig. print number: JA_POR_40_33
He picked me up hitchhiking.
Orig. print number: JA_POR_40_13
Orig. print number: JA_POR_4x5_24
Orig. print number: JA_13MCB_109_XX
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_21_14. Man walking across a parking lot, seen through partially opened curtains.
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_35_7. Wooden building with the window closed in with a sign reading "FIN."
Orig. print number: JA_POR_3_49
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_12_XX
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_80_15
Orig. print number: JA_LAL_78_31
Photojournalist and regional documentary photographer Jesse Pyrant Andrews (b. 1949) is based in southern Virginia, and has photographed the changing rural landscapes of Virginia and North Carolina and the lives of its inhabitants since 1975. His documentary projects now also include oral history interviews that provide an important context for his portraits of Virginia veterans, farmers, and former textile mill workers. Andrews studied at the New England School of Photography in Boston, Massachusetts, working primarily with photographers Olive Pierce and George Dewolfe. He shoots 35mm black-and-white film which he prints in his traditional wet darkroom.
- Five Farms: Stories from American Farm Families photographs, 2008 (Rubenstein Library, Duke University)
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Andrews, Jesse
- Andrews, Jesse
- Archive of Documentary Arts (Duke University)
- Burlington Industries, Inc. -- History
- Davis family (Va.)
- Agriculture -- Virginia -- Pictorial works
- Country life -- Virginia -- Pictorial works
- Documentary Photography -- Virginia -- Pittsylvania County
- Documentary photographers -- Virginia
- Farms -- Virginia -- Pictorial works
- Farm life -- Virginia
- Halifax County (Va.) -- Pictorial works
- Pittsylvania County (Va.) -- Pictorial works
- Rural conditions -- Virginia
- Railroad travel -- United States -- Pictorial works
- Tobacco farmers -- Virginia -- Pittsylvania County -- Pictorial works
- Tobacco industry -- Virginia -- Pittsylvania County
- Textile industry -- Virginia
- Textile workers -- Social conditions
- Veterans -- United States -- Social conditions -- 20th century
The Jesse Pyrant Andrews photographs and oral histories were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a purchase in 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, and 2014.
Processed by Elizabeth Arnold, John Mayrose, 2007
Encoded by John Mayrose, May 2007; Meghan Lyon, March 2009 and January 2012
Updated and processed by Paula Jeannet Mangiafico and Matthew Warren, December 2012; Clare Callahan and Paula Jeannet Mangiafico, August 2013; and Paula Jeannet Mangiafico, December 2015
Accessions 2003-0229, 2007-0029, 2007-0069, 2008-0040, 2008-0276, 2011-0012, 2012-0040, 2012-0043, 2012-0098, and 2014-0212 are represented in this finding aid.