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 Details

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

Collection Overview

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.

More Biographical / Historical Info


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.

Using These Materials

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 2 full business days in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning 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.

warning 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.

More copyright and citation information

How to Cite

[Identification of item], Hugh Mangum photographs, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

1. Glass Plate Negatives, circa 1890-1922

34 boxes

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
  1. N5: First column, second row reproduces a photo portrait of Hugh Mangum in an oval frame.
  2. N43: Hugh Mangum is in the top left corner.
  3. N209: Possibly Hugh's mother, Sally, or a sister. Martha Sumler, a Mangum descendant, possesses a very similar chair.
  4. 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.
  5. N314: Hugh with three girls, possibly his sisters.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. N537: Hugh Mangum appears in the first column.
  10. N545 reveals the original grist mill at West Point on the Eno River in Durham, NC, in flood waters.
  11. N634: Hugh appears in the top left corner.
  12. N647: First row is Hugh and Annie. Second row is Annie. Third row is Perry Carden, Annie's brother.
  13. N652: Hugh Mangum, self-portrait, circa 1910.
  14. 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.
  15. N671: The Carden family (parents of Annie) house in East Radford, Virginia.
  16. N674: La Belle Inn, a hotel in Radford, Virginia, circa 1890s, which once housed the State Normal School for Women. Demolished in 1935.
Conditions Governing Access note

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.

Negatives N1-2, N688
(3.25x4.25 in.)
Box 1
Negatives N3-N52
(4.25x6.5 in.)
Box 2
Negatives N54-N103
(4.25x6.5 in.)
Box 3
Negatives N105-N156
(4.25x6.5 in.)
Box 4
Negatives N157-N208
(4.25x6.5 in.)
Box 5
Negatives N210-N259
(4.25x6.5 in.)
Box 6
Negatives N260-N311
(4.25x6.5 in.)
Box 7
Negatives N312-N366
(4.25x6.5 in.)
Box 8
Negatives N369-N430
(4.25x6.5 in.)
Box 9
Negatives N432-N498
(4.25x6.5 in.)
Box 10
Negatives N499-N555
(4.25x6.5 in.)
Box 11
Negatives N556-N605
(4.25x6.5 in.)
Box 12
Negatives N606-N653
(4.25x6.5 in.)
Box 13
Negatives N654-N665
Box 13
Negatives N360-N545
(6.5x8.5 and 8x10 in.)
Box 14
Broken glass plate negatives, N635-N646, inclusive, and one unnumbered plate (various sizes)
Box 15
Deteriorated glass plate negatives, GPN01-GPN19
Box 16
Deteriorated glass plate negatives, GPN20-GPN48
Box 17
Deteriorated glass plate negatives, GPN49-GPN76
Box 18
Deteriorated glass plate negatives, GPN77-GPN93
Box 19
Glass plate negatives, N689-N708
(20 plates, 5x7 inches)
Box 20
Glass plate negatives, N709-N727
(5x7 inches, 19 plates)
Box 21
Glass plate negatives, N728-N748
(5x7 inches, 21 plates)
Box 22
Glass plate negatives, N749-N768
(5x7 inches, 20 plates)
Box 23
Glass plate negatives, N769-N788
(4 1/4 x 6 1/2 inches, 20 plates)
Box 24
Glass plate negatives, N789-N808
(4 1/4 x 6 1/2 inches, 20 plates)
Box 25
Glass plate negatives, N809-N828
(4 1/4 x 6 1/2 inches, 20 plates)
Box 26
Glass plate negatives, N829-N848
(4 1/4 x 6 1/2 inches, 20 plates)
Box 27
Glass plate negatives, N849-N869
(3 1/4 x 4 1/2 inches, 21 plates)
Box 28
Glass plate negatives, N870-N876
(3 1/4 x 4 1/2 inches, 7 plates)
Box 29
Deteriorated glass plate negatives, N877-N896
(5x7 inches, 20 plates)
Box 30
Deteriorated glass plate negatives, N897-N916
(4 1/4 x 6 1/2 inches, 20 plates)
Box 31
Deteriorated/broken glass plate negatives, N917-N924
(4 1/4 x 6 1/2 inches (3); 5x7 inches (5), 8 plates)
Box 32
Deteriorated/broken glass plate negatives, N925-N931
(5x7 inches, 7 plates in sink mats)
Box 33
Deteriorated/broken glass plate negatives, N932-N937
(5x7 inches, 6 plates in sink mats)

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.

Box 34

2. Photographic Prints, circa 1890-1922 (most printed after 1980)

1 box

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.

Print of negative containing twelve "penny portraits," most of unidentified African American men and women..
Box 35
Image P22
Print of negative containing 22 penny portraits of unidentified white people.
Box 35
Image P24
Print of negative containing eight portraits of unidentified white people.
Box 35
Image P28
Unidentified white young woman.
Box 35
Image P42
Print of negative containing nine penny portraits, all of unidentified teenaged boys and girls and one unidentified white woman.
Box 35
Image P44
Unidentified young white man.
Box 35
Image P125
Unidentified young white woman.
Box 35
Image P126
Print of negative containing 24 penny portraits of unidentified white people.
Box 35
Image P132
Print of nine portraits, mostly of white people, but also including a young black man.
Box 35
Image P149
Unidentified white woman.
Box 35
Image P156
Unidentified white girl and boy.
Box 35
Image P168
Unidentified white woman.
Box 35
Image P180
Unidentified white woman wearing glasses.
Box 35
Image P190
Unidentified white woman.
Box 35
Image P193
Unidentified white man and woman.
Box 35
Image P203
Unidentified white woman.
Box 35
Image P242
Portrait of four unidentified white men.
Box 35
Image P266
Unidentified white man holding a hat.
Box 35
Image P267
Print of a negative containing two images. On the left, an unidentified white woman is sitting with an unidentified white man; in the right picture, the same woman is posed with Hugh Mangum. It is possible that the man is one of Mangum's partners, and the woman is the wife of the partner.
Box 35
Image P271
Unidentified white woman with two children, a toddler daughter and an infant.
Box 35
Image P278
Two unidentified white couples.
Box 35
Image P283
Print of a negative containing twelve penny camera portraits and one group portrait. The penny camera images are mostly of two unidentified white women, and the group portrait is of three old men and two infants.
Box 35
Image P311
Hugh Mangum with three girls, possibly his sisters.
Box 35
Image P314
Unidentified white woman.
Box 35
Image P324
Unidentified white woman seated on a log outside.
Box 35
Image P326
Unidentified young white woman.
Box 35
Image P352
Three unidentified white women and two dogs.
Box 35
Image P368
Two unidentified white women.
Box 35
Image P369
Unidentified young white girl outside in a yard with chickens.
Box 35
Image P370
Unidentified seated young white woman.
Box 35
Image P372
Unidentified white little girl, outside.
Box 35
Image P373
Landscape print of mountainside with wooden rail fence at base. In the distance, along the ridges, stand small groups of unidentified people.
Box 35
Image P400
Two prints, one modern, of an unidentified white woman.
Box 35
Image P404 and 404A
Five unidentified young white women.
Box 35
Image P406
Unidentified white woman wearing a hat.
Box 35
Image P407
Unidentified white man in dark coat and hat, sitting on horse, side view, against rural landscape of distant field with tree on left; large tree in near right background, possibly on the banks of a creek.
Box 35
Image P418
Mill, probably at West Point on the Eno River, Durham, NC, with horse-drawn wagon and unidentified people.
Box 35
Image P419
Unidentified white man.
Box 35
Image P424
Unidentified seated white woman wearing a hat.
Box 35
Image P436
Print of a negative containing two images of an unidentified white female toddler.
Box 35
Image P439
Unidentified white family outside, some seated, some standing.
Box 35
Image P469
Print of deteriorated negative showing a crowd surrounding a train wreck.
Box 35
Image P473
Portrait of an unidentified white family standing outside on a porch.
Box 35
Image P476
Outside portrait of an unidentified white family.
Box 35
Image P478
Portrait of an unidentified white family outside a building.
Box 35
Image P479
Unidentified white father and son sitting on a rail fence.
Box 35
Image P480
Group portrait of unidentified white family taken outside with family dog.
Box 35
Image P481
Portrait of a large group of unidentified white children, possibly a school, taken in front of a building.
Box 35
Image P482
Portrait of an unidentified white family taken outside.
Box 35
Image P483
Two modern black and white prints, 8x10 inches, no negatives, no numbers; two unidentified white men. One is of a young man with a pistol; the other is a slightly older young man with a mustache in a top hat. One is likely to represent Hugh Mangum (his name appears in brackets on back of print).
Box 35
Photographic print with 24 "penny portrait" images of men and women, unnumbered
Box 37
Mounted photograph of white man [Hugh Mangum?] in coffin, resting in parlor room, circa 1920
(Image dimensions: 7 1/4 x 9 1/4 inches; mount dimensions: 12 1/4 x 12 3/4 inches)
Box 38
West Point Mill on the Eno River during a flood, turn of the 20th century, 16x20 inch reproduction of N545
Oversize-folder 1
Panoramic photo of Radford Summer Normal College, 2nd session, E. Radford, Virginia, 1921 Aug. 29, unnumbered
Oversize-folder 2

3. Artifacts

1 box

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.

Original glass plate negatives boxes, late 19th-early 20th century
(7 items)

Present are six glass plate negatives boxes and also one printed advertisement that was folded up and inserted with plates in a box. Five of the boxes are empty; one contains unused plates.

Box 36

4. Exhibit Prints

2 boxes

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.

Unmatted digital prints (use copies)
(25 items)
Box 37
CD-R with 25 digital image files
Conditions Governing Access note

[Electronic records have been migrated to a library server. To request access, please contact Research Services before coming to use this collection.]

Box 37
Matted exhibit prints
(25 items)
Box 38

Historical Note

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.

Related Material

  • 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.


The Hugh Mangum photographs were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 1986, 2006, and 2012-2015.

Processing Information

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.