Guide to the Glenn Scarboro photographs, 1962-1976
This collection of 166 black-and-white inkjet 13x19 inch photographs by Glenn Scarboro explores through street photography, landscapes, and portraits the social life and culture of southern Virginia in the 1960s and 1970s. About half of the photographs were taken in Danville, the photographer's hometown, while other images were taken in Richmond, Blacksburg, Roanoke, and other towns of the region. A dozen or so photographs were taken in other states such as Georgia and North Carolina, and there are a few from Rhode Island and New York. The street scenes in Danville and other towns include images of white and African American residents, small businesses, houses, and churches; rural themes include horse shows. county fairs, and country landscapes. There is also a series of family portraits taken in the 1960s. Collection includes one handmade photobook by Scarboro containing eleven photographs and handwritten text. Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.
- Collection Number
- Glenn Scarboro photographs
- 1.5 Linear Feet, 3 boxes, 168 items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Materials in English
This collection of 166 13x19 inch black-and-white inkjet prints by Glenn Scarboro explores through street photography, landscapes, and portraits the social life and culture of southern Virginia in the 1960s and 1970s. About half of the photographs were taken in Danville, a small town with industries linked to tobacco, railroads, and textile mills, and the artist's hometown. Other images were taken in Richmond, Blacksburg, Roanoke, and other towns of the region. A dozen or so photographs were taken in other states such as Georgia and North Carolina, and there are a few from Rhode Island and New York.
The street scenes of Danville and other towns include images of white and African American residents of all ages and backgrounds, chiefly from the 1960s; small businesses; people and their cars; house exteriors and interiors; churches; and outdoor advertising and logos. One photograph is of the house of free black craftsman Thomas Day, in Milton, NC.
Rural themes include portraits of country people, barns and tobacco warehouses, livestock, and rural landscapes, with a large series of images particular focused on southern Virginia horse shows and county fairs.
There are no photographs of the social protests and political activities that took place in small towns such as Danville at that time, but the street photographs do speak to social culture and conditions in southern Virginia during the 1960s, and some, as the photographer notes, allude to the sense of social disruption and alienation in small-town Southern society.
The series ends with a series of portraits, chiefly of Scarboro and his immediate family, taken in the 1960s. One portrait of Scarboro in New York City was taken by photographer, instructor, and friend Emmet Gowin.
The collection also includes a 15-page handmade artist's book by Scarboro containing eleven black-and-white photographs taken in 1963 and printed from original negatives in 1965. The book was assembled in 1972 and is number six of a limited edition of seven, and features a unique cover with a pen-and-ink drawing.
A print inventory created by the photographer contains additional biographical narrative and commentary, and is available in the first box. The photographs are arranged in original order as received.
From the artist's statement: "There was a photograph in The Family of Man made by Jerry Cooke (originally published in Life magazine) of a woman sitting quite forlorn on a bench in a very dark place that gave no clues as to time, place, person or situation...which are the four psychiatric attributes of reality. She was alone. The quote under the photograph read, 'I am alone with the beating of my heart.' (Lui Chi) Making photographs in the streets of my hometown in the 60/70s calmed the beating of my unsettled heart and gave a face to the feelings of social alienation endemic to that time. Danville streets were the places of my earliest identity. In the process of becoming a close observer of ordinary lifeâ€¦I had become an artist.
Anxiety is always at the edge of identity."
Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.
Photographs are arranged and numbered in original order as received from the artist.
Access to the Collection
Collection is open for research. Images may only be used for educational, non-commercial purposes; any other use requires the photographer's permission.
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], Glenn Scarboro photographs, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Body of documentary work by Glenn Scarboro, consisting of 166 13x19 inch black-and-white exhibit quality prints, and a handmade photobook, number 6 of 7 handmade books by Scarboro, with original photographs, ink sketches and handwritten text. Also includes a black-and-white photograph of the group of seven books by Scarboro.
A large cow statue advertising the Camellia Dairy.
This spiral-bound handmade photobook, assembled by Scarboro in 1972, was prepared in a limited edition of seven, of which this is number six. It is centered around eleven 5x7 inch black-and-white gelatin silver photographs, dry-mounted back to back, taken in 1963 and developed in 1965 from original negatives. Titles were devised by the photographer in 2017. The images were taken in Virginia and North Carolina cities and towns and are a mix of streetscapes, still lifes, and portraits.
The cover features a unique pen-and-ink drawing by the artist, followed by an introductory page with a handwritten image index of titles, places, and dates. Included in this series is a photograph of the group of seven unique photobooks, including the one in this collection.
Caption by library staff. The books were completed in 1972; the exact date of the photograph is unknown.
The eleven photographs featured were taken by Scarboro in 1963 and developed in 1965. The book was assembled in 1972. Titles devised by photographer in 2017. A few of the photographs are not in the main prints series.
Glenn Scarboro was born in January 1945 in Danville, Virginia, several months before the end of World War II. He learned to make photographs at age seventeen when a family friend who was a photographer for the local weekly newspaper asked him to cover an assignment for him.
Continuing his photography as he pursued a career in social work, Scarboro was particularly influenced by Emmet Gowin at the Fine Art Department at Richmond Professional Institute (now Virginia Commonwealth University), and by the work in Family of Man, edited by Edward Steichen, and The Decisive Moment by Henri Cartier-Bresson.
The Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History (DMFAH) has twice featured Scarboro's work in solo exhibitions: "The Views of Silent Space" in 2001, and in 2010, an exhibition titled "One Boy's Story: 35mm Street Photography and Other Ephemeral Moments." This work was later expanded to a collection of 166 photographs made from 1962 to 1976 and is the foundation of Scarboro's gift to the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- African Americans -- Virginia
- African Americans -- Virginia -- Social life and customs
- Artists' books (books)
- City and town life -- Virginia -- Photographs
- Country life -- Virginia -- Photographs
- Documentary Photography -- Virginia -- Pittsylvania County
- Fairs -- Virginia
- Horse shows -- Virginia
- Portrait photography -- United States
- Danville (Va.) -- History
- Danville (Va.) -- Photographs
- Danville (Va.) -- Social conditions
- Pittsylvania County (Va.) -- Photographs
- Virginia -- Photographs
- Virginia -- Social conditions
- Virginia -- Social life and customs -- 20th century
The Glenn Scarboro photographs were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 2017.
Processed by Yuqiao Cao and Paula Jeannet, November 2017.
Accession(s) described in this finding aid: 2017-0159.
The photographs were printed using an Epson Sure Color P800 printer with Epson Ultrachrome Ink on Epson Exhibition Fiber Base Paper from scanned 35mm and 6x6 negatives.