Guide to the Hugh Mangum photographs, circa 1890-1922
Hugh Mangum was a commercial portrait photographer from Durham, North Carolina. Collection contains 937 glass plate negatives and printed black-and-white photographs taken by Mangum from about 1890 to 1922 as he traveled a rail circuit through North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia and in photography studios he and partners established in Roanoke, Pulaski, and East Radford, Virginia. The images are chiefly individual and group portraits of residents in those areas - women, children, and men, either in a studio setting or outdoors. The majority are white men and women, but there are also many African Americans. Some people have been identified; Mangum and his wife are present in several images. There are several street scenes from Radford, as well as Warrenton (probably N.C.), and Christiansburg, Virginia. Of the photographic prints, there are 55 prints made from selected negatives, and 50 inkjet digital prints from a 2012 exhibit. Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.
- Collection Number
- Hugh Mangum photographs
- circa 1890-1922
- Mangum, Hugh, 1877-1922
- 10 Linear Feet, 38 boxes; 2 oversize folders
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Material in English
The Hugh Mangum Photographs collection dates from approximately 1890 through 1922, and contains 937 glass plate negatives and a selection of black-and-white prints, of portraits and scenes taken by Hugh Mangum, a portrait photographer based in Durham, North Carolina. There is also a set of 25 exhibit prints and 25 smaller viewing prints from a 2012 Center for Documentary Studies exhibit curated by a Duke University student.
The images were taken as Mangum traveled a rail circuit through North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. He also likely took some of these images in the photography studios he and partners established in Roanoke, Pulaski, and East Radford, Virginia. Communities marked on a few of the plates include Warrenton (probably North Carolina rather than Virginia), and Christiansburg, Virginia. Localities known to have been visited by Mangum in N.C. include Winston-Salem, High Point, Raleigh, Reidsville, Lexington, Durham, and Greensboro; in Virginia, Martinsville, East Radford, and Pulaski. From an annotated trunk lid found in the collection it seems he also visited Texas but it is unknown if any of the images in the collection were taken there.
The images are chiefly individual and group portraits of local residents, although there are several town scenes with landmark buildings. There are women, children, and men, either in a studio setting or outdoors; the majority are white but there are many African Americans. There are buildings such as barns, schools, and houses often present in the group portraits, and in many cases there are dogs, chickens, cats, and horses. Sometimes the individual poses with a possession such as a bicycle or musical instrument. One image is of a train accident with a large group of bystanders. Often numbers are stamped or written on the plate. The library staff has assigned unique numbers to each image and plate. There are multiple images of Hugh Mangum and the Mangum and Carden families; see the glass plate negative notes below for more details. The last dated print in the collection is a mounted print of Mangum's body in an open casket, 1922.
Mangum photographs are distinctive for the level of comfort exhibited by his subjects in front of the camera. This ease in front of the camera is readily noted due to the large quantity of "penny picture camera" negatives in the collection that contain multiple images of numerous subjects. Often the first picture of a subject appears rather stiff and formal as in traditional nineteenth century photographs. In the second and subsequent pictures, the subject often visibly relaxes, assumes different poses, uses props, removes or adds a hat, and may smile broadly at the camera. This progressive transition in poses from formal to very informal is a hallmark of the Mangum collection. The collection may be of particular interest to researchers studying late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century fashion trends.
The glass plate negatives are closed to use, but researchers may use online digitized images which represent the entirety of the collection of negatives. In addition, the collection also makes available for research use original contact prints, contact sheets, one panoramic print, and print reproductions created for exhibition and other purposes.
Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.
Arranged in the following series: Glass Plate Negatives, Prints, Artifacts, and Exhibit Prints. The glass plate negatives are arranged in size order. Number ranges for each size are not always inclusive.
Access to the Collection
Original glass plate negatives are closed to patron use. Print and digital copies are available.
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.
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.
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], Hugh Mangum photographs, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Series contains 937 collodion glass plate negatives, chiefly in half and quarter-plate sizes, bearing individual and group portraits of men, women, and children. Some scenes are more informal and show outdoor gatherings and a few show landscapes and city scenes. Often plates contain multiple images in rows, up to 24 per plate; these small portraits were often called "penny portraits" from the camera used to take multiple, small, and inexpensive images on one plate. Most of the sitters' names are unknown but some have been identified through an ongoing collaboration with researchers and other individuals. Hugh Mangum has been identified in several images; see additional notes for individual plate numbers in this series description.
All the negatives are slated for digitization; please see the online images for more detailed information about the image content.
Although most of the negatives are in good condition, there are several dozen that are partially or almost entirely deteriorated, adhered together permanently, or broken. All have received intensive conservation treatment and are also slated for digitization to reproduce as much of the image as possible.
With a few exceptions, glass plate negatives are arranged in size groupings of 3 1/4 x 4 1/4, 5x7, and 4 1/4 x 6 1/2 inches; there are also some 8x10 inch plates.Notes on Individual Images
- N5: First column, second row reproduces a photo portrait of Hugh Mangum in an oval frame.
- N43: Hugh Mangum is in the top left corner.
- N209: Possibly Hugh's mother, Sally, or a sister. Martha Sumler, a Mangum descendant, possesses a very similar chair.
- N271: Hugh is in the picture on the right. The man is most likely one of Mangum's business partners. The woman is most likely his partner's wife.
- N314: Hugh with three girls, possibly his sisters.
- N478: Hugh Mangum in center of group on a bank outdoors, possibly sisters and a young male relative, circa 1890s. Some of these same girls appear to be in another image, N361, which portrays a large group of people, possibly many members of the Mangum family.
- N517: Fifth column photos are of Julia Carden, Hugh's sister-in-law (he married Annie Carden in 1906). Last column is Perry Carden, Julia and Annie's brother.
- N528: The Wharton Building in Radford, Va. Hugh established a studio in East Radford. This image also exists as a postcard. Radford area images were identified by the director of the Glencoe Museum in Radford.
- N537: Hugh Mangum appears in the first column.
- N545 reveals the original grist mill at West Point on the Eno River in Durham, NC, in flood waters.
- N634: Hugh appears in the top left corner.
- N647: First row is Hugh and Annie. Second row is Annie. Third row is Perry Carden, Annie's brother.
- N652: Hugh Mangum, self-portrait, circa 1910.
- N669: A view, circa 1900, of West Radford, Virginia. The large building in the foreground with the porch is the Radford Trust building, constructed around 1891.
- N671: The Carden family (parents of Annie) house in East Radford, Virginia.
- N674: La Belle Inn, a hotel in Radford, Virginia, circa 1890s, which once housed the State Normal School for Women. Demolished in 1935.
Due to their fragility, glass plate negatives are closed to research access. For viewing purposes, please use online images or prints. Contact the Rubenstein Library for more information.
Four of the plates are permanently adhered together in pairs, with each pair housed in one sink mat; they are numbered 936-A and 936-B, and 937-A and 937-B, but counted as two objects rather than four. Other plates were separated by Conservation staff and are numbered individually.
Fifty-five unmounted black-and-white prints of selected Mangum studio negatives are housed in this series; there is also one mounted photograph of the body of Hugh Mangum in an open casket, 1922. A few of the photographs in this series are vintage early 20th century contact prints; most are modern copy prints, and most of these were likely made for the Durham County, North Carolina, West Point on the Eno Mangum Photography Museum around the 1980s.
Most prints measure 8x10 inches but there are also smaller prints; there are also a few oversize prints which are housed separately, including a vintage panoramic photograph of a group of schoolchildren, and one mounted photograph of what is believed to be Hugh Mangum in an open casket. One modern unnumbered print is likely a self-portrait of Hugh Mangum with a top hat; also, print 271 features Mangum, probably with his three sisters, and print 314 Mangum with possibly a business partner and the partner's wife. See other notes on individual images in the top section of this collection guide.
Consists of four boxes for glass plate negatives manufactured by companies based in Missouri. Three boxes, are empty; the other still holds five unused 5x7 inch glass plate negatives wrapped in black paper.
Consists of two sets of digital pigmented inkjet prints mastered by documentary photographer Bill Bamberger, for the 2012 Center for Documentary Studies exhibit on the photography of Hugh Mangum, Keep All You Wish: The Photographs of Hugh Mangum. The 25 prints (50 items total) were produced from the original glass plate negatives in the Mangum collection in the Rubenstein Library at Duke. The original negative numbers for these prints are: N53, N258, N269, N274, N305, N318, N361, N397, N399, N405, N410, N414, N419, N434, N467, N472, N480, N506, N520, N570, N644, N652, N657, N662, and "Chain Gang-BB." The exhibit was curated by Sarah Stacke as her final project for her Graduate Liberal Studies degree.
One set of prints measures 8 1/2 x 11 inches and the prints are unmatted; the prints in the second set measure 11x14 inches and are housed in 16x20 mats. Also included in the series is a CD of the 25 images that were edited in Photoshop by Bamberger; the files have been mounted to a library server and are available on request. The exhibit images with accompanying panel texts are also available online through the Duke Libraries Digital Exhibits website.
NOTE: The surface of digital prints is extremely fragile and should be protected. Please handle prints by the edges and refrain from touching the image.
[Electronic records have been migrated to a library server. To request access, please contact Research Services before coming to use this collection.]
Hugh Leonard Mangum was born on June 3, 1877 in downtown Durham, N.C., the son of Presley J. Mangum, an early postmaster of Durham and furniture maker, and Sally Mangum. In 1891, the Mangums bought the McCown house at West Point, then a rural community centering on a water mill on the Eno River, and used the home as a summer residence. In 1893, when Hugh Mangum was 16 years old, the Mangum family moved out to the Eno River community permanently. By the time he was 16, Hugh Mangum had taught himself photography. He was also an adept painter in oils and watercolor and could play the mandolin, accordion, and piano. Mangum studied art at Salem College in Winston-Salem, N.C. and studied hypnotism on his own.
From this time on, Mangum led a rambling life throughout the cities and rural areas of the Southeast, photographing blacks and whites, children at play, workers in the field, and scenes around his home by the Eno River. He traveled by train, sometimes on a manually-propelled handcar, on these picture-taking trips, returning often to his family's Durham, N.C. home on the Eno. Through the course of his travels Mangum set up many temporary studios as well as three permanent ones located in the Virginia communities of Roanoke, Pulaski, and East Radford. Ordinary people would walk in wherever Mangum set up his studios and have their pictures made. Mangum also maintained a darkroom at his family's home on the Eno in a packhouse building which has been restored and converted into the Hugh Mangum Museum of Photography. Mangum printed many of his negatives in the packhouse darkroom having exposed the negatives elsewhere, usually on location in his permanent of temporary studios. Mangum used Black Meadow Branch, a small tributary of the Eno, as a water source for chemical mixing and for washing his prints.
Mangum's family included his father, Presley and mother, Sally, and three sisters, one of whom was named Lula. Hugh married Annie Carden of East Radford in 1906 and they had a daughter. On March 12, 1922, at the age of 44, he died in Roanoke, Virginia during an influenza epidemic. One mounted print in the collection is of Mangum in an open casket.
Mangum's original darkroom, a tobacco pack house on the Mangum farm at West Point on the Eno, was saved and restored by The Friends of West Point and opened in 1986 as The Hugh Mangum Museum of Photography. In addition to his darkroom, the museum contains Hugh Mangum's traveling trunk, a selection of vintage prints, prints made from Mangum original negatives in the 1980s by photographer David Page, and period photography equipment.
- Presley Jackson Mangum Family Papers (contains a photograph taken by Mangum - see Rubenstein card catalog (digitized online) for details)(Rubenstein Library)
- Michael Francis Blake Photographs, 1912-1934 (African American photographer from Charleston, S.C.; houses many portrait images of African Americans)(David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library)
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Archive of Documentary Arts (Duke University)
- Carden family (Va.)
- Mangum, Hugh, 1877-1922
- Mangum family (N.C.)
- African Americans -- Portraits
- African Americans -- Southern States -- Pictorial works.
- Commercial portraiture -- History -- 19th century
- Commercial portraiture -- History -- 20th century
- Photographers -- North Carolina
- Photographers -- Virginia
- Photography -- North Carolina
- Portrait photographers -- North Carolina
- Portrait photographers -- Virginia
- Durham (N.C.) -- Pictorial works
- Durham (N.C.) -- Social life and customs
- North Carolina -- Pictorial works
- North Carolina -- Social life and customs
- Radford (Va.) -- Pictorial works
- Virginia -- Social life and customs
- Virginia -- Pictorial works
The Hugh Mangum photographs were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 1986, 2006, and 2012-2015.
Processed by Karen Glynn and Peter Hymas, May 2006.
Encoded by Aaron Thornburg, May 2009; Kenneth Dasher, July 2009. Updated by Paula Jeannet Mangiafico, October 2011.
Exhibit prints added to collection by Joanne Fairhurst, February 2013.
New addition processed by Conservation staff and Paula Jeannet Mangiafico, March 2017.
Accessions represented in this collection guide: 1987-0137, 2006-0044, 2006-0123, 2012-0057, 2013-0103, 2014-0079, and 2015-0191.