Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Professional Development Call: Charlene Foggie

Professional Development Call: September 20, 2012
Carnegie Museum of Art - Pittsburgh, PA

Charles “Teenie” Harris
He was a Pittsburgh Courier staff photographer for the majority of the 20th century (45 to 50 years).  He traveled to Fort Bragg North Carolina to document how the Black troops were being treated. This was a story for the Pittsburgh Courier. The Charles "Teenie" Harris photograph collection at the Carnegie Art Museum represents the black experience of the 20th century. A local law firm helped Teenie to get control of his negatives back from the businessman (Dennis Morgan) that he sold it to. The jury found in favor of the Harris family. Mr. Harris died in 1997.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The Black community in Pittsburgh said, “you own the negatives not the history”. Over the past 10 years, the community members have been interpreting the photographs for us. Charlene asks all the questions, and they feel comfortable because she is from there.

Carnegie Museum of Art
The archivist on staff is Karen Sclenbarger. She has her MLS and provided the structure for the catalog. The community liaison is Charlene Foggie. She is also Julieanna’s contact. The curator of the museum is Louise Lippincott, she has her Ph.D. from Princeton University. The museum exhibit brought more attention to the collection. The museum purchased 25 negatives originally and talked with Mr. Harris about them. Mr. Harris decided that he wanted to have the collection at the Carnegie Museum of Art. The museum purchased the collection from the Harris estate in 2001. The purchase included the ownership and copyright of over 80,000 photographs.

Archives Job Description
The museum plans to hire an archivist in the next 12 to 18 months. They will be looking for someone with knowledge of photographic science and mediums. They also want someone who understands photographic aesthetics. A meticulous database manager who can notice spelling errors and use consistent language. Lastly, they need someone who is interested in the subjects of the photographs.

On the website there is a phrase, “as funds become available”, are you still working with money from the NEH, “We the People” project? What was your methodology for the oral history project? Do you have any advice about making the most of living in southern California? Were there any issues in exhibiting his photographs from his time as a staff photographer for the Pittsburgh Courier? How did Rollo Turner (Sociology Professor at University of Pittsburgh) become aware of the collection? Do you have any of Mr. Harris' accompanying documents in the archive?

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