Museum has images from Teenie Harris archives


Charles “Teenie” Harris photographed the events and daily life in Pittsburgh's African American community between 1936 and 1975 for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the nation's most influential Black newspapers.

His archive, which was acquired by Carnegie Museum of Art in 2001, contains nearly 80,000 negatives and is considered one of the most complete portraits of the urban experience of Black Americans. Documenting Our Past: The Teenie Harris Archive Project, Part Two, is on view from February 18 to July 30, in the museum's Forum Gallery. Approximately 200 digital prints of Harris' work, selected by former New Pittsburgh Courier photographer and guest curator Mark Clayton Southers, will be on display, and an additional 7,000 images will be available on a computer monitor. Most of these photographs are on view for the first time.

Carnegie Museum of Art is welcoming members of the community familiar with the history of the era to view and help identify the people, places, and events recorded in Harris' images, which document a period of momentous change for Black Americans. (Visitors to the first Teenie Harris Archive Project in 2003 provided information that resulted in more than 1,000 identifications.)

Mr. Southers has divided the digital prints into six categories: photojournalism, entertainment, landmarks, sports, “people I know,” and portraits. “I see the importance of the legacy that Teenie Harris left behind,” says Mr. Southers, who was staff photographer at the New Pittsburgh Courier from 1980–92. “Every photo has a story behind it.”

A $340,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities is enabling the Museum of Art to undertake the important tasks of cataloging, scanning, and archivally storing approximately 26,400 of Harris' negatives. The Teenie Harris Archive Project, Part Two brings to public view the work that has been done to date.

The museum's community liaison, Deborah Starling Pollard, is offering free slide-illustrated presentations about the project to community organizations. The information gathered from this project will be entered into the museum's collections database and will soon be available to the public on-line. Images from the Teenie Harris Archive Project, Part One, can be viewed on the museum's web site with links to an on-line viewer response form.


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