Pittsburgh, African American Grandure

0
187

Poignant images of Pittsburgh’s African American community from 1935 to 1975 by famed photographer Charles ‘Teenie’ Harris capture pivotal moments of the city’s rich history.

  • Stunning images captures members of Pittsburgh’s African American community as they endured both joyous and challenging moments in mid-20th century America
  • Charles ‘Teenie’ Harris pictured local people and famous faces from 1935 to 1975 for the Pittsburgh Courier 
  • The images show a rich tapestry of life events from weddings, funerals, family portraits and church events
  • In 2001, Carnegie Museum of Art purchased the Harris archive of over 70,000 photographic negatives

Charles ‘Teenie’ Harris photographed Pittsburgh’s black community from 1935 to 1975. His archive of over 70,000 images is one of the most detailed and intimate records of the black urban experience which is currently in existence.

Harris, who died in 1998, was one of the leading photographers for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the nation’s pre-eminent black newspapers.

Stunning images captures members of Pittsburgh's African American community as they endured both joyous and challenging moments in mid-20th century America

Stunning images captures members of Pittsburgh’s African American community as they endured both joyous and challenging moments in mid-20th century America

Charles 'Teenie' Harris photographed Pittsburgh’s black community from 1935 to 1975 and was well known in the area

Charles ‘Teenie’ Harris photographed Pittsburgh’s black community from 1935 to 1975 and was well known in the area.

Harris, who died in 1998, was one of the leading photographers for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the nation's pre-eminent black newspapers

Harris, who died in 1998, was one of the leading photographers for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the nation’s pre-eminent black newspapers.

The images show a rich tapestry of life events from weddings, funerals, family portraits, church events, street scenes, businessmen, and mill workers.

In 2001, Carnegie Museum of Art purchased the Harris archive of over 70,000 photographic negatives, few of which are titled and dated.  Around 89,000 works are currently available online, according to the museum.

The archive is considered one of the most important documentations of 20th-century African American life and much work has been done to identify those who are pictured and locations.

Since 2003, the museum has scanned and cataloged nearly 60,000 images, many of which are available on the online collection database.

Through special efforts, lectures and special events, and three Teenie Harris Archive Project exhibitions, the museum has asked for help in finding out who people are, places, and events in the images.

So far, 12,000 images have been positively identified with help from the community.

Harris’s work has been showcased through a series of focused exhibitions spanning a number of themes, topics, and histories, including  Hair, Civil Rights, and Jazz from the Hill, which have occurred in recent years.

‘He was a studio photographer, photojournalist and advertising photographer who helped preserve African-American culture from family life to social life,’ Deborah Willis, a photography professor at New York University, previously said of the accomplished photographer.

Harris’s work has been showcased through a series of focused exhibitions spanning a number of themes, topics, and histories, including Hair, Civil Rights, and Jazz from the Hill

Harris’s work has been showcased through a series of focused exhibitions spanning a number of themes, topics, and histories, including Hair, Civil Rights, and Jazz from the Hill

Harris had his own private photography studio on Centre Avenue, which was Black business district in Pittsburgh's Hill District. He was given the nickname Teenie for his diminutive stature

Harris had his own private photography studio on Centre Avenue, which was Black business district in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. He was given the nickname Teenie for his diminutive stature

In 2001, Carnegie Museum of Art purchased the Harris archive of over 70,000 photographic negatives, few of which are titled and dated

In 2001, Carnegie Museum of Art purchased the Harris archive of over 70,000 photographic negatives, few of which are titled and dated.

Harris documented life in the black communities of Pittsburgh, including weddings, funerals, family portraits, church events, street scenes, businessmen, and mill workers

Harris documented life in the black communities of Pittsburgh, including weddings, funerals, family portraits, church events, street scenes, businessmen, and mill workers

The museum owns 560 lifetime gelatin silver prints of Harris images, including many printed or hand colored by the artist.

Around 3,000 prints acquired in 1997 are preserved in Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Oliver Room. Harris documented life in the black communities of Pittsburgh, including weddings, funerals, family portraits, church events, street scenes, businessmen, and mill workers.

Michael Keaton, actor and activist, previously said of Harris’ work: ‘I grew up and got my start in Pittsburgh during a time when Teenie Harris was active, and he is one of my favorite photographers.

‘What I find most impressive is the way he worked as an insider, documenting the communities around him, particularly the political struggles of African Americans during the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Charles 'Teenie' Harris became a much-respected figure within the community and was invited into homes for weddings, funerals, baptisms, birthday parties, anniversaries, and other momentous family events.

Charles ‘Teenie’ Harris became a much-respected figure within the community and was invited into homes for weddings, funerals, baptisms, birthday parties, anniversaries, and other momentous family events.

The Hill was home to the city's most famous places for musical entertainment, which had several celebrity attendees

The Hill was home to the city’s most famous places for musical entertainment, which had several celebrity attendees

The images show people from all walks of life going about their business

The images show people from all walks of life going about their business

Since 2003, the museum has scanned and cataloged nearly 60,000 images, many of which are available on the online collection database. The images show people from all walks of life going about their business

The museum’s policy for management of the archive was shaped by an advisory committee of Harris family members, academic specialists, and Pittsburgh community leaders

The museum’s policy for management of the archive was shaped by an advisory committee of Harris family members, academic specialists, and Pittsburgh community leaders

The exhibition captures the rich stories and pivotal moments of Pittsburgh’s history through some of the Hill District native’s most iconic images

The exhibition captures the rich stories and pivotal moments of Pittsburgh’s history through some of the Hill District native’s most iconic images

Teenie's photographs show the camaraderie, the friendship, and the spirit of a community that was closely followed by the Pittsburgh Courier

Teenie’s photographs show the camaraderie, the friendship, and the spirit of a community that was closely followed by the Pittsburgh Courier

‘Voting rights gains made during this time are under threat across the country, so I jumped at the opportunity to look at this critical issue through Teenie’s lens.’

Teenie had his own private photography studio on Centre Avenue, which was Black business district in Pittsburgh’s Hill District.

The neighborhood, affectionately known as The Hill to locals, was the most well-known of numerous African American areas in Pittsburgh.

Other Black neighborhoods were areas such as Homewood, Manchester, Beltzhoover, the West End, and the North Side.

The Hill was the place to be as it could be compared to New York’s Harlem. It was home to the city’s most famous places for musical entertainment, which attracted enthusiastic audiences and celebrity performers, according to Pennsylvania Heritage.