Texas African American Photography Archive

founded by Alan Govenar and Kaleta Doolin

About

A major focus of Documentary Arts is the expansion and organization of the Texas African American Photography (TAAP) Archive.

The TAAP archive provides a broad overview of African American photography in the urban and rural areas of Texas, spanning the period from the 1870s to the present and representing a variety of processes and makers. The Archive is unique in its comprehensiveness, and consists of over 50,000 photographic negatives and prints and more than 20 oral histories collected from African American photographers. Most of the items in the Archive have been donated by the photographers and their families, while others have been acquired from private collections.

In Febrary, 1997 the TAAP Archive finalized its association with the African Americah Museum of Dallas by initiating a series of exhibitions, workshops and public programs.

The TAAP Archive is housed across the street from Documentary Arts in a permanent, state-of-the-art archival facility. It was constructed for this purpose through a major private contribution. This facility is located in the 5501 Columbia Art Center complex at 115 North Augusta near the corner of Columbia Ave, in East Dallas, TX, operated by Documentary Arts and Contemporary Culture, another non-profit organization.

The archive building itself has storage areas, a fireproof, climate-controlled vault with a temperature-regulated alarm system, a public event area, and secured and lighted parking. Processed collections are available for research and study on-site at the Archive. Full photographic reproduction services are available. For more information about conducting research and obtaining reproductions, please contact the Archive at (214)-823-8824 or email the archive.

The TAAP Archive focuses on the growth and development of vernacular and community photography among African Americans in Texas. The material in the Collection elucidates the context of social gatherings, including weddings, funerals, Juneteenth parades, church services, high school and college graduations, neighborhood businesses, and day-to-day activities in African American communities around the state. In addition, the images chronicle social protests and political demonstrations.The Collection includes work by identified photographers from around the state as well as photographs by unidentified picture makers. Within the historical context of the work, the Collection includes undocumented tintypes and other early prints that were found in Texas African American communities. The TAAP Collection places the work of older artists along side of that of their younger peers. The known photographers represented in the Collection include Calvin Littlejohn (Fort Worth), A. B. Bell, Marion Butts, George Keaton, and Carl Sidle (Dallas), Curtis Humphrey (Tyler), Eugene Roquemore (Lubbock), A. C. Teal, Elnora Frazier, Juanita Williams, Rodney Evans, Earlie Hudnall, Jr., Herbert Provost, Benny Joseph, and Louise Martin (Houston), Alonzo Jordan (Jasper) and Morris Crawford and Robert Whitby (Austin).
Calvin Littlejohn (1909-1993) was originally from Cotton Plant, Arkansas, and moved to Fort Worth in the early 1930s. He opened his first studio in 1934 and remained active in the African American community in Fort Worth until his death.

A. B. Bell (1913-1989) was a freelance photographer for the Dallas Post Tribune and Dallas Express. From 1977 to 1979 he had his own studio on Elm Street in downtown Dallas, and from 1979 until his death, he worked out of his home in Oak Cliff. Marion Butts (b. 1924) was the managing editor of the Dallas Express from 1954 to 1962 and has been active as a photographer in the African American communities of Dallas for more than forty years. George Keaton (b. 1933) began his career as a photographer by working for the Anderson Studio while he was a high school student and currently operates his own studio in South Dallas. Carl Sidle (b. 1943) is a medical photographer, who documents community life in his free time.

A. C. Teal (1891?-1956) was a commercial photographer who opened his first studio in Houston in 1919, and in 1942 opened his own school of photography. Among his students are Elnora Frazier (b. 1924), Juanita Williams (b. 1926) and Benny Joseph (b. 1924), who have all pursued independent careers in photography. Herbert Provost (b. 1921) opened his first studio in Houston in 1949, and continues to be active as a community photographer. Rodney Evans taught photography at Texas Southern University from 1952 to 1991. Evans' student, Earlie Hudnall, Jr. (b. 1946), currently works at Texas Southern University and is highly regarded for his photographs of African American neighborhood life and culture. Louise Martin (b. 1911) studied photography at the Chicago Art Institute and Denver University and returned to Houston, where she has worked since 1946.

Morris Crawford (1920-1983) and Robert Whitby (1914-1978) were high school teachers in Austin and worked as community photographers on a part-time basis. Curtis Humphrey (b. 1907) began his career as a photographer in Fort Worth in 1932. He later worked in Dallas in the State-Thomas area. In the 1940s he taught photography at Texas College in Tyler and at Wiley College in Marshall. Since 1954, Humphrey has operated his own studio in Tyler, and has worked in African American communities throughout East Texas. Eugene Roquemore (1921-1993) was a student of Curtis Humphrey at Wiley College in 1947. Originally from Timpson, Texas, Roquemore operated a photographic studio in Henderson until he moved to Lubbock in 1952, where he was employed by Frito-Lay and worked as a photographer in the African American community in his free time.