Welcome Remarks for Where We Find Ourselves: The Photographs of Hugh Mangum, 1897–1922
McGowan Theater, National Archives Building, Washington, DC
April 30, 2019
Good afternoon, and welcome to the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and I’m pleased you could join us for today’s program, whether you are here in the theater or joining us through Facebook or YouTube.
Before we hear from Margaret Sartor and Alex Harris about their new book, Where We Find Ourselves: The Photographs of Hugh Mangum, I’d like to tell you about two other programs coming up in May.
On Thursday, May 2, at noon, Michael Dobbs will tell us about his new book, The Unwanted: America, Auschwitz, and a Village Caught in Between, which relates the story of a group of German Jews from one village who desperately sought American visas to escape Nazi Germany.
And on Friday, May 10, at noon, historian Susan Ware looks beyond the national leadership of the woman suffrage movement in Why They Marched: Untold Stories of the Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote.
Check our website, Archives.gov, or sign up at the table outside the theater to get email updates. You’ll also find information about other National Archives programs and activities.
Another way to get more involved with the National Archives is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. The Foundation supports the work of the agency, especially its education and outreach programs. Visit its website—archivesfoundation.org—to learn more about the Foundation and join online.
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When itinerant photographer Hugh Mangum set up a temporary studio in a new town, he advertised his services as “All Kinds of Pictures.” Here at the National Archives, we too have “all kinds of pictures”—more than 44 million in the DC area and across the nation.
Among those millions of images, a great number were taken simply to document progress, such as for a construction or agricultural project, or record the activities of government officials.
But you’ll also find pictures that reveal the photographer’s artistry and give us greater insight into the people and the times.
On the 1900 census, 22-year-old Hugh Mangum embraced that side of photography and proclaimed his occupation as “artist.” His surviving photographs show us a unique view of ordinary people who lived in the early 20th-century South.
Like the photographs preserved in the National Archives, Mangum’s pictures not only freeze a moment in history, they invite the viewer to think about the interaction of the photographer, the subject of the picture, and the circumstances of the picture-taking.
The images left to us by Hugh Mangum and other photographers are direct connections to a past time and allow us to glimpse history on a personal level.
Let’s turn now to today’s speakers, Margaret Sartor and Alex Harris, to learn more about the work of this remarkable photographer.
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Margaret Sartor is a photographer, writer, and independent curator who teaches at Duke University. Her work includes the acclaimed monographs William Gedney: Only the Lonely, 1955-1984, and What Was True: The Photographs and Notebooks of William Gedney and the New York Times best-selling memoir Miss American Pie: A Diary of Love, Secrets, and Growing up in the 1970s. Her photographs have appeared in numerous books and periodicals, including Black: A Celebration of Culture, In Their Mother’s Eyes: Women Photographers and Their Children, Aperture, Esquire, and The New Yorker. Her work is in permanent and private collections including the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Ogden Museum of Art, and the North Carolina Museum of Art.
Alex Harris is a distinguished photographer, writer, teacher, and editor. He is a professor of the Practice of Documentary Studies and Public Policy at Duke, where he has taught photography for four decades. Harris ‘s own photographic work is represented in major collections including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. His awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship in Photography, a Rockefeller Foundation Humanities Fellowship, and the Robert Cox Undergraduate Teaching Award at Duke. As a photographer and editor, Harris has published 17 books including River of Traps, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Margaret Sartor and Alex Harris.