Inventory of the Alex Harris Photographs and Papers, 1970-2012 and undated
Documentary photographer and author based in Durham, North Carolina.
The Alex Harris Photographs and Papers span the years 1970 to 2012. The 549 black-and-white and color photographic prints are organized into the following series established by the photographer: Alaska; American South; Cuba Auto/Landscapes; Game Boy; May Day: Yale on Strike; New Mexico/Arizona; Philadelphia Experience Corps; Portraits of Aging; and Mobile, Alabama. Harris's professional papers are housed in four additional series, described more fully in the collection guide: Publicity and Audiovisual Material; Correspondence; DoubleTake Files; Project Files; and Teaching Materials. The papers reflect Harris's collaborations with other photographers and writers on books and exhibitions, including anthropologist Gertrude Duby Blom, and document his career at Duke University, both as a teacher and as co-founder of the Center for Documentary Studies and the magazine it later published, DoubleTake. The files include correspondence, publicity, project materials, and published and recorded interviews and essays. Original audiovisual materials are closed to use, and some listening copies are available: please contact a reference archivist before using this collection. Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
- Harris, Alex.
- Alex Harris Photographs and Papers, 1970-2012 and undated
- Language of Material
- 29 Linear Feet, Approximately 15,400 Items
- For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
- Alaska Series, 1973-1978
- American South Series, 1971-1972, 1984-1985
- Cuba Auto/Landscapes Series, 1998
- Game Boy Series, 1997-1999
- May Day: Yale on Strike Series, May, 1970
- New Mexico and Arizona Series, 1972-1987, 1999, 2000
- Philadelphia Experience Corps Series, 1999
- Portraits of Aging Series, 1990-1992
- Mobile, Alabama Series, 2009-2011
- Publicity and Audiovisual Materials Series, 1982-2010
- Correspondence Series, 1972-1992 and undated
- DoubleTake Files Series, 1991-1998 and undated
- Project Files Series, 1970-1998 and undated
- Teaching Materials Series, 1976-1996
- Oversize Materials
The Alex Harris Photographs and Papers span the years 1970-2012, from the time Harris was producing his earliest photographic work as a graduate student at Yale University, to his more recent work documenting the American South. The 413 black and white and color photographic prints in the collection are organized into the following series established by the photographer, and are described more fully in the collection guide: Alaska; American South; Cuba Auto/Landscapes; Game Boy; May Day: Yale on Strike; New Mexico/Arizona; Philadelphia Experience Corps; Portraits of Aging; and Mobile, Alabama. The images depict landscapes across the United States, the culture and society of Cuba and U.S. cities, and portraits and other shots of individuals spanning all ages, races, and origins. The prints range from black and white gelatin silver to color archival pigmented prints printed on laser or inkjet printers; sizes range from 8x10" reference prints to very large 24x30 exhibit prints; some prints are matted.
Four other series composed mainly of non-photographic materials document other aspects of Harris's career, especially his collaborations with other photographers and writers, and his career at Duke University, both as a teacher and as co-founder of the Center for Documentary Studies and the magazine it later published, DoubleTake. The Publicity and Audiovisual Materials Series contains recordings of lectures and many interviews related to his projects, as well as publicity for exhibits and publications. The extensive Correspondence Series includes not only Harris's letters but also grant applications, research notes, drafts and proofs, printed materials, and photographs. The DoubleTake Files consist mainly of materials generated during the planning stages and early years of the magazine's existence; while materials on Harris' extensive collaborations on other publications, documentary projects, and related exhibitions make up the large Project Files Series. The last group in the collection, the Teaching Materials Series comprises syllabi, printed materials, student writings, and other materials from classes taught by Harris mainly at Duke University.
Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.
Collection is open for research. Materials are for educational use only; commercial reproduction is prohibited.
However, collection may contain materials to which the Acknowledgment of Legal Responsibilities and Privacy Rights form applies. Patrons must sign this form before using this collection.
Use copies are available as surrogates for the very large prints in the Cuba Auto/Landscapes and Game Boy series, and should be used whenever possible. Please consult with a reference archivist for access to the original prints.
Original audiovisual materials are closed to use. Use of these materials may require production of listening or viewing copies. Please contact a reference archivist before coming to use this collection.
All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. Consequently, there may be a 24-hour delay in obtaining these materials.
Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.
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.
Contains six 16x20 (box 3) and 50 11x14 black and white prints (boxes 1-2). The images were made over the course of multiple trips over a five-year period to villages along the Kobuk River, located above the Arctic Circle, and fishing villages along the southern coast of the Bering Sea in Alaska. The images depict the day-to-day lives of indigenous peoples in various small Alaskan communities.
Fifty-six black and white 17x22 digital prints (boxes 6-7) of people and places throughout North Carolina, photographed from 1971-1972. The project was an initiative of the Institute of Policy Sciences and Public Affairs at Duke University and started as a photographic study of substandard housing and living conditions in the state. The images feature scenes and portraits of North Carolinians from counties in the eastern, central and western regions. These photographs are from very early in Harris' professional career. Additionally, the series contains 38 24x30 color prints (boxes 4-5) of the American South, photographed from 1984-1985. This project was funded by an award from the Lyndhurst Foundation; the images feature scenes from a variety of Southern towns.
Contains 21 24x30 pigmented inkjet color prints of Cuban landscapes and city scenes taken from within the interiors of classic American cars dating from 1948-1958. Also includes one 24x30 "type C lambda print" digital laser print on Fuji Crystal Archive Paper. Use copies for these large prints are available in Box 10. There is also a single 24x30 color print, in a 30x40" mat. No use copy is available for this print.
Consists of 21 20x24 color prints, featuring the artist's son, Will, and deals with the subject of children and technology. Smaller use copies for these large prints are available in box 13. The project was provoked by the artist's observation that children, including his own, were becoming increasingly attached to handheld, portable electronic gaming devices. The series captures the artist's son in a variety of settings, both public and private, playing his Game Boy and means to explore the implications of how pre-adolescent interaction with electronics might bear out on post-adolescent human interaction and relationships. Use copies for these large prints are available in Box 10.
Alex Harris' earliest work in the collection consists of 12 black and white 16x20 digital prints of student demonstrations at Yale University. The demonstrations came in response to the arrest of Black Panther Party leader, Bobby Seale, who was accused of ordering the murder of a supposed police informant in New Haven, CT. The series documents the demonstrations from a variety of angles and includes images of National Guard soldiers, students and university officials. These images remained unprinted for almost thirty-seven years until they were edited and printed as part of an exhibition of Alex Harris' early work at Duke University.
Black and white digital prints and color prints taken by Harris in New Mexico and Arizona, printed in 1999 and 2000. There are also some images shot in Arizona at a Rainbow Gathering, a counter-culture festival (1979, printed in 1999).
Contains 11x14 black and white prints shot by Harris on assignment to document the Experience Corps, a United States civic engagement program akin to the Peace Corps. Images feature school children and tutors interacting in various school settings in six Philadelphia city schools.
Contains black and white matted portraits of older individuals from Durham, North Carolina in their seventies, eighties and nineties. The images include biographical information and the place each portrait was taken. Also includes publicity poster for exhibit.
Contains 68 archival pigmented color photographs taken by Alex Harris in Mobile, Alabama for a documentary book project co-authored with naturalist Edward O. Wilson, entitled Why We Are Here: Mobile and the Spirit of a Southern City (2012). The prints were part of an exhibit in the Mobile Museum of Art from October-January 2013.
Images include portraits of Mobile citizens from various backgrounds; a football team's activities; Civil War re-enactors; street scenes; Mardi Gras events; and landscapes, including images of the Gulf of Mexico.
The prints were made on an Epson 7900 stylus pro, using Epson ultrachrome hdr inks. The paper is Innova Fibraprint ultrasmooth gloss, an acid-free and lignin-free paper on a fiber base.
[Original 2x3 foot color prints are closed to research use; 11x17 viewing prints are available in the repository.]
Contains various publicity, exhibition material, and publications featuring Harris' work in documentary photography. This series also includes audio recordings of interviews with Harris, as well as recordings of lectures given by Harris at the National Humanities Center in North Carolina and in various other conferences. One notable set of audiocassettes contain interviews conducted by Harris that feature reminiscences and comments by Gertrude Duby Blom (1901-1993), well-known journalist, anthropologist, activist, and documentary photographer who studied indigenous peoples in Mexico. Titles on recordings taken from original carriers.
[Original audiovisual materials are closed to use. Use of these materials may require production of listening or viewing copies. Please contact a reference archivist before coming to use this collection.]
Contains copies of the Innovations journal, 2001-2002, which features Harris's photography. Also includes copies of the photography publication Aperture, 1978 and 1989, El Contemporani, 2001, and the Yale Alumni Magazine, 1971. Additionally, includes one folder of thumbnails and captions of particular photographic documentary projects, 1998-2001.
Copy of exhibition catalog, Les Suds profonds de l'Ámerique--Alex Harris, Clarence John Laughlin, Ralph Eugene Meatyard: collection le Pavillon des Images, dirigeé par Gilles Mora, Paris: Democratic Books, 2010. Also includes leaflet from exhibition and undated  gift note from Alex Harris. Exhibition date: 2010 Oct. 21-2011 Jan. 30.
Recordings of Harris from conferences, receptions, a presentation given at the National Humanities Center, and radio interviews of Harris. Three subgroups of tapes were processed at a later point and are described below under the following headings: "Alex Harris, various recordings"; "DoubleTake recordings"; and "South African Documentary Photographers interviews." Titles are taken directly from original cassettes.
[Original audiovisual materials are closed to use. Some use copies are available and are noted. Otherwise, access to materials may require production of listening or viewing copies. Please contact a reference archivist before coming to use this collection.]
Six audiocassettes that document various conferences, exhibitions, and talks. Arranged chronologically.
A group of eight cassettes, six of which document meetings and retreats conducted in the early 1990s to discuss creation of the magazine eventually known as DoubleTake. Two microcassettes from several years earlier feature Robert Coles discussing the Center for Documentary Studies. No transcripts have been discovered, but see the series note under DoubleTake Files for directions to material about the early history of the magazine. Several tapes may refer to the same meeting at Quail Roost Retreat, although with slight variations in labeling and dating. Tapes are arranged chronologically; audiocassette format unless noted otherwise.
[Originals closed to use. Listening copy must be made. Please consult with a reference archivist before coming to use this item.]
Audiocassettes and microcassettes of interviews with and public appearances by many of the twenty photographers represented in the South African Documentary Photography Collection. Interviews were conducted mainly by Alex Harris and Margaret Sartor. The tapes themselves are mainly undated, but transcripts place them between October 1985 and July 1986.
Arrangement: There are fifteen microcassettes and six audiocassettes in this group. Because they are largely undated and have a complex numbering scheme, with interview subjects appearing on multiple tapes, an alphabetical rather than chronological or numerical arrangement has been used in the list below. All tapes on which individual photographers appear are listed after their names; "Micro" has been added to the original numbering to differentiate between micro and audiocassettes. The transcripts are strictly alphabetical. Since they contain little or no reference to the tape numbering scheme, an individual transcription cannot be assumed to contain all appearances of an individual on various tapes. Transcripts are housed in the Correspondence Series under "South Africa--transcripts."
[Originals closed to use. Listening copy must be made. Please consult with a reference archivist before coming to use this item.]
Badsha's name appears in numerous transcripts, although no single transcript is filed under his name. His name also appears on numerous microcassettes, including: Micro2; Micro7; Micro8 (both sides); Micro9 (plus "Jeewa"?); Micro11 (plus "Jeewa"?); Micro13 (both sides, "Omar" only); Micro13 (a 2nd "13", on B side of Micro20); and Micro13/18.
One VHS videocassette and one DVD documenting class activities and a lecture.
[Originals closed to use. Viewing copies must be made. Please consult with a reference archivist before coming to use this item.]
Set of use copies of interviews with Gertrude Blom, and one copy of NHC lecture "Culture in Focus" by Harris.
Correspondence, drafts, grant applications, research notes, photographs, printed materials, proofs, publicity, and other materials produced during Harris's work on a variety of books, conferences, exhibitions, and academic activities from the mid-1970s through the early 1990s. Some projects are covered in considerable depth, including the following: early history of the Duke University Center for Documentary Studies; Wendy Ewald and the project that eventually became the Literacy Through Photography Program; photographer Paul Kwilecki's first book, Understandings; Harris's work with Robert Coles and Helen Levitt on her In the Street: Chalk Drawings and Messages New York City, 1938-1948; and various projects involving South African photographers (see scope notes for specific boxes). Other books and exhibitions represented in this series include: I Shall Save One Land Unvisited: Eleven Southern Photographers (1978); The Last and First Eskimos (1982); The Old Ones of New Mexico (various editions); Red White Blue and God Bless You: a Portrait of Northern New Mexico (1992); and River of Traps: a Village Life (1990). Arranged alphabetically by correspondent or topic.
Materials include correspondence and publicity for The Cordoned Heart exhibition.
Materials include seventy-five of Harris's 35mm slides and related negatives of John Hope Franklin, 1990 June-July.
Materials include manuscripts and correspondence with photographer Paul Kwilecki on his first book, Understandings. See also related materials filed under the book's title. Some items removed to Oversize Materials.
One folder, A.J. Meek, removed for preservation.
Materials include: correspondence with Omar Badsha and other photographers; publicity and photographic materials for various South Africa projects such as Beyond the Barricades, The Cordoned Heart and The Transported of Kwandebele For the last title, see also materials filed under David Goldblatt.
Materials include; correspondence and publicity materials for the South Africa Documentary Photography Fellowship Program; transcripts of interviews with South African documentary photographers and with South African journalist Allister Sparks.
8x10" format prints and negatives removed from correspondence folders for flat storage. Includes work on projects with Gertrude Blom, Robert Coles, the photographs of Aden Field, and publicity photographs for The Cordoned Heart.
Mainly correspondence with several hundred authors, photographers, and staff members during the first few years of publication of the magazine DoubleTake. These records differ significantly from the materials in the Correspondence Series. They derive from a later time--mainly the mid-1990s instead of the 1970s and 1980s--and are generally less in-depth for each entry, containing fewer manuscripts, photographs, and research materials for the projects under discussion. Possibly related materials can be found in Rubenstein Library in the Preliminary Inventory of the DoubleTake Records, 1908-1999 (bulk 1993-1999). Materials about early discussions and preparations for founding the new magazine are filed under a variety of topics, including: Editorial prospectus; Whitney Ellsworth (a publishing consultant); Publication--early correspondence; and Quail Roost conference. Arranged alphabetically.
Articles, correspondence, grant applications, manuscripts, notes, photographic materials, printed materials, research notes, and other documents derived from various books and related exhibitions and symposia on which Harris has worked as curator, editor, organizer, or photographer. The bulk of the materials derive from the following three books and related projects: Gertrude Blom: Bearing Witness (1984); A New Life: Stories and Photographs from the Suburban South (1997); and A World Unsuspected: Portraits of Southern Childhood (1987).
Articles, correspondence, grant applications, manuscripts, research notes, card files, and other materials related to various projects involving the work of anthropologist, journalist, and documentary photographer Gertrude "Trudi" Duby Blom, who most famously documented the culture and struggles of Mexican indigenous peoples such as the Lacandón. Materials center around Harris's work with Blom on the book Gertrude Blom: Bearing Witness (1984) and the related exhibition at the International Center for Photography, also 1984, co-curated by Harris and Margaret Sartor. Arranged alphabetically by topic. Photos of indigenous tribes, probably from this period, are also found in Box 57.
Biographies of authors and photographers, correspondence, finances and contracts, and printed materials for A New Life: Stories and Photographs from the Suburban South (1997). Arranged alphabetically by topic.
Manuscripts, correspondence, copyedited typescripts, printed materials, and miscellaneous files for A World Unsuspected: Portraits of Southern Childhood (1987). Also included here are preparations for a conference at the Lyndhurst Foundation in Chattanooga. Arranged with individual authors' manuscripts first, followed by topical categories in chronological order.
Syllabi, printed materials, student writings, and other classroom materials for Harris's classes at University of North Carolina and Duke University. Arranged chronologically.
[SOME MATERIALS MAY BE RESTRICTED: Students' grades and social security numbers have been redacted in all places where they were encountered. Any similar information remaining in the files is closed to use and must be removed.]
Color photographs documenting North Carolina State Fairgrounds and Durham, North Carolina urban scenes, produced by three students taking Alex Harris' course, PPS/DOCST 177S, academic year 2003-2004. Consists of nine inkjet 9x13" color prints and four paper-format text panels, including the introductory text panel by Harris. Some of the students' work was exhibited in 2004 at the Center for Documentary Studies under the title "Sense of Place." List of titles available in the box.
Alex Harris was born in 1949 and grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. He is married to Margaret Sartor, also a documentary photographer and educator. Harris has spent the majority of his adult life in North Carolina. His photography deals with a wide range of subject matter, documenting in particular aspects of the American South, New Mexico, Arizona, and Alaska, as well as the people and regions of Cuba. Many of his works are part of major collections, including those of The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, The High Museum of Art in Atlanta, The North Carolina Museum of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Harris has also received a variety of awards for his photography, including a Guggenheim Fellowship in Photography, a Rockefeller Foundation Humanities Fellowship, and a Lyndhurst Prize. He is the co-founder of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, where he has taught documentary photography and writing since 1975. He has also published many books on documentary photography, many of which feature his own work.
- Archive of Documentary Arts (Duke University)
- Black Panther Party--Pictorial works.
- Blom, Gertrude Duby--Interviews.
- Duke University. Center for Documentary Studies.
- Harris, Alex, 1949-
- Seale, Bobby, 1936-
- Alaska Natives--Pictorial works.
- City and town life--Alabama.
- City and town life--Cuba.
- Computer games--Social aspects.
- Documentary photography--United States.
- Documentary photography--Southern states.
- Duke University--Faculty.
- Indigenous peoples--Alaska--Pictorial works.
- Older people--North Carolina--Pictorial works.
- Photographers--United States--Correspondence.
- Photography--Study and teaching.
- Southern states--Pictorial works.
- Student protesters--Pictorial works.
- Student strikes--Pictorial works.
- Technology and children.
- Yale University--Student life.
- Mobile (Ala.)--Pictorial works.
- Alaska--Pictorial works.
- Arizona--Pictorial works.
- Cuba--Pictorial works.
- Havana (Cuba)--Pictorial works.
- New Mexico--Pictorial works.
- Color photographs.
- Digital prints.
- Gelatin silver prints.
- Inkjet prints.
[Identification of item], Alex Harris Photographs and Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
The Alex Harris Photographs and Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift from 1992-2012.
Processed by Tanner Capps, Paula Jeannet Mangiafico, February 2010
Encoded by Tanner Capps, Paula Jeannet Mangiafico, March 2010
Addition processed and encoded by Michael Shumate, August 2011
Updated to include addition of student work, Paula Jeannet Mangiafio, July 2012
Accession 2012-00116 processed and encoded, November 2012
Accessions 1992-0060, 1993-0116, 1993-0312, 2000-0009, 2000-0277, 2001-0104, 2002-0017, 2002-0080, 2003-0032, 2003-0028, 2003-0228, 2003-0261, 2004-0329, 2008-0018, 2008-0118, 2008-0119, 2009-0005, 2009-0170, 2010-0082, and 2012-0116 were merged into one collection, described in this finding aid.
Descriptive sources and standards used to create this inventory: DACS, EAD, NCEAD guidelines, and local Style Guide.
This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.