Guide to the North Carolina Self-Portrait Photography Collection, 1930-1996
The North Carolina Self-Portrait Photography Collection includes copy negatives, contact sheets, prints, information sheets, agreements, and voice recordings created as part of the North Carolina Self-Portrait Project, undertaken to build an archive of images and other materials documenting the experiences of African American families in the South. The photographs were assembled by requesting copy photographs from African American families primarily in North Carolina, but a few locations in Mississippi were also included. Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.
- Collection Number
- North Carolina Self-Portrait Photography collection
- Duke University. Center for Documentary Studies
- 8 Linear Feet, Approximately 2000 Items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Material in English
The North Carolina Self-Portrait Collection, 1993-2000, contains paper documents, audio cassettes, contact sheets, slides, negatives, and photographs, all relating to the work of the NCSP project. To build the collection of images of African Americans in the South, project staff visited African American families primarilyy in North Carolina locales, but also in Mississippi, and requested copies of original family photographs created from 1900 to 1990, giving back quality reproductions to the families for their own collections.
The collection is particularly rich in materials related to the private and professional lives of African Americans living in the South during the first half of the 20th century. The images contain subjects typical to family photograph albums, including: candid and formal portraits, weddings, anniversaries, award ceremonies, school pictures, athletic teams, vacations, leisure activities, and other aspects of domestic life. In addition, many of the families whose photographs were copied were active members of religious and social organizations. Some of the distinct and more heavily represented organizations are the Arabian Shriners, New Bern Isiserettes, Eastern Stars, Young Men's Institute in Asheville, the A.M.E. Church, as well as employees of the NC Mutual Insurance Co. The North Carolina portion of this project was primarily conducted in the geographic locations of New Bern, James City, Durham, Asheville, and Southern Pines.
Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.
The collection is arranged into six series: Papers, Photographic Prints, Contact Sheets, Negatives and Slides, Exhibition Prints, and Audio Cassettes.
Access to the Collection
Portions of the collection are restricted.
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.Conditions Governing Access note
Portions of the collection are restricted: the Black Highlander materials are open for research access but cannot be reproduced.
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], North Carolina Self-Portrait Photography Collection, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
Consists of files and records stemming from the project to create the North Carolina and Mississippi Self-Portrait Collection. Includes information sheets for each subject or family; notes from the photography sessions; grant proposals and budgets; correspondence; photocopies of loaned photos; and other project records. Also includes computer disc with information sheets.
This subseries contains paper format materials created when photographing the family albums of North Carolina residents. The material is arranged alphabetically, by the collection's creator, using a three letter code for the last name of the participant family, with some exceptions. Each folder contains an information sheet that provides an itemized description of the photographs that were copied, and may contain notes used when printing the photographs contained in other series in this collection.
(RESTRICTED: images may not be reproduced.)
Files house records concerning the administration of the NCSP project.
Photographs printed from negatives made by photographing family albums.
This subseries contains photographs made from the albums of families living in North Carolina, and is organized by the same three letter code as the North Carolina Individual Families Subseries located in the Paper Format Series.
Photographs that at the time of processing could not be directly attributed to a specific family; or photographs in a different format than the photographs in the North Carolina Individual Families Subseries.
Contains contact sheets for the projects conducted in North Carolina and Mississippi.
This subseries contains color and black-and-white contact sheets printed from negatives made from the albums of families living in North Carolina, and is organized by the same three letter code as the North Carolina Individual Families Subseries in the Paper Format Series. The color contact sheets are foldered together because they contain images for more than one family. Color images were not made for all of the participant families, if color material exists for a particular family it is noted in the following container list. The Color Contact Master Sheet (located in the Paper Format Series and the color contact sheet folder) is an index of the color contact sheets that can be used locate a corresponding black-and-white image, and to identify the participant family that provided the original image. Because the color contact sheets contain images for more than one family a portion of the contact sheet may be open for research while another portion is closed. The Color Contact Master Sheet can be used to identify the portions of the contact sheets that are closed.
(RESTRICTED: open for access but not to be reproduced)
This subseries contains contact sheets made for the project conducted at the University of Mississippi. Contact sheets made from the albums of participant families living in Mississippi, as well as, images of the participant families themselves are included in this subseries. The negatives used to make the contact sheets contained in this subseries are not included in this collection.
This series contains black-and-white negatives and color negatives made from the albums of families living in North Carolina, and is organized by the same three letter code as the North Carolina Individual Families Subseries in the Paper Format Series. This series also contains slides of exhibition quality photographs that were made from both the Mississippi and North Carolina projects.
(Closed portions have been removed.)
This series consists of matted and unmatted black and white photographs printed from negatives originating in Mississippi and North Carolina; the matted prints were used in exhibitions in 1995 and 2000 at the Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University. Most titles supplied by archivist.
Photographer unknown. From the collection of Mrs. Eva Ford, Vicksburg, Mississippi.
Photographer unknown. From the collection of Mrs. Eva Ford, Vicksburg, Mississippi. Copied by Robert Jones. Supported by a grant from the Lyndhurst Foundation.
Photographer unknown. From the collection of Mrs. Baggs, Jackson, Mississippi. Copied by Robert Jones. Supported by a grant from the Lyndhurst Foundation.
Photographer unknown. From the collection of Melvin and Gwendolyn Loper, Jackson, Mississippi. Copied by Robert Jones. Supported by a grant from the Lyndhurst Foundation.
Photographer unknown. From the collection of Mr. Roosevelt Cathey, Coldwater, Mississippi. Copied by Robert Jones. Supported by a grant from the Lyndhurst Foundation.
From Mrs. Eva Ford, Vicksburg, Mississippi.
Captions supplied by archivist. Some prints are umatted but the majority are in mats. All are black and white prints.
This series contains audio cassette recordings of reminiscence and descriptions of the photographs copied from the albums of North Carolina participant families.
[Original audiovisual materials are closed to use. Use of these materials may require production of listening or viewing copies. Please contact Research Services before coming to use this collection.]
The Center for Documentary Studies, an interdisciplinary educational organization affiliated with Duke University, is dedicated to advancing documentary work that combines experience and creativity with education and community life. Founded in 1989, CDS connects the arts and humanities to fieldwork, drawing upon photography, filmmaking, oral history, folklore and writing as catalysts for education and change.
The North Carolina Self-Portrait project (NCSP) was directed by Alex Harris at the Center For Documentary Studies, Duke University. The NCSP project was modeled after a similar project conducted by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. The objective of these projects was to photograph the family pictures of African Americans, and to record on audio tape the family member's descriptions of the photographs.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- African American families -- Mississippi -- Portraits
- African American families -- North Carolina -- Portraits
- African Americans -- Mississippi -- Portraits
- African Americans -- North Carolina -- Portraits
- Photography -- United States -- History
- Portrait photography -- United States
The North Carolina Self-Portrait Photography Collection was received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 1999, 2001, and 2007.
Processed by Christopher Black, April 2003
Encoded by Noah Huffman, April 2010
Addition processed and encoded by Clare Callahan, May 2012.
Accessions 1999-0347, 2003-0020, and 2007-0156 were merged into one collection, described in this finding aid.