From Sophie's Alley to the White House
Rediscovering the Visions of Pioneering Black Government Photographers
Federal Records and African American History (Summer 1997, Vol. 29, No. 2)
By Nicholas Natanson
Robert McNeill, former Federal Writers' Project and Department of State photographer and ever the keen observer, recently recalled the moment, from an early 1980s colloquium, with a chuckle.
There had always been this whole black world centered around Howard [University], kind of a protected enclave. Someone had gotten together a bunch of panels [featuring] "black achievers" from Howard. The panelists were going on and on about how they had achieved this, how they had achieved that, "how I remember being host to the famous poet . . . ," that sort of thing. And then a young student from the audience got up and asked, "How did you deal with your blackness?" There was this shocked silence. The panelists didn't know what to do with the question. Everything had been going along like peaches and cream, and then this question. "How did you deal with your blackness?"(1)
What was once a fresh, provocative question has now become, in the academic environment of the mid-1990s, a given. In an era of well-established race and gender scholarship, history tends to be reconstructed and analyzed in terms of group identities. The tendency has been especially pronounced in photohistory, where the reigning assumption has been that, with respect to photographic depictions of members of politically, culturally, economically "marginalized" groups in American society, images of true value are those exploring aspects of oppression, injustice, conflict, protest--themes allegedly ignored or trivialized by a white, male, middle-class photographic establishment.(2)
Little wonder, then, that when photohistorians have considered the subject of pioneering black photographers in the federal government, they have focused almost exclusively on Gordon Parks. It is Parks, after all, whose self-styled attempts to use the camera as a weapon during his Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information (FSA/OWI) tenure produced the now-classic 1942 image of government charwoman Ella Watson standing grimly, hauntingly, with mop and broom, next to an American flag. And it is Parks, after all, whose multiple autobiographies have been filled with accounts of his struggles with racial barriers through the decades.(3)
For all its popularity, however, the current paradigm leaves important gaps. Too often lost, amid the fashionable discussions of the impact of white middle-class "dominant discourses" and "hegemonic boundaries," is a sensitivity to the details of the more concrete contexts affecting pictorial content: the administrative sponsorships under which photographers worked and the local social conditions into which photographers ventured. Lost, too, is a sensitivity to the multiple selves--emotional, professional, organizational, generational, as well as racial-- that constitute the individual, whether photographic creator or subject of the photograph.
And lost, amid the fascination with Parks, has been proper acknowledgment of the "other" pioneering black civilian photographers of the mid-twentieth century: McNeill, who as a twenty-year-old was traveling the highways and back roads of Virginia in 1938, documenting black life for the Writers' Project publication The Negro in Virginia; Roger Smith, appointed to the Office of War Information Domestic News Bureau in 1942 to handle black coverage for the Negro Press Section and soon known as the "Official OWI Negro Photographer" in black journals throughout the country; and James Stephen "Steve" Wright, by the turn of the 1940s head of Federal Works Agency photographic operations and later the key force in the Department of State photographic organization from the Truman through the Nixon administrations. These were the photographers who, while never generating images as jarring as Parks's, made subtler contributions to black photographic recognition and, just as importantly, to federal photography.(4)
Their stories, especially those of McNeill and Wright, emerge through a variety of sources--oral histories, private collections, and visual and textual holdings of the National Archives.
Robert McNeill, son of a physician and school administrator, grew up in black middle-class Washington, D.C. Photographic ventures of the late 1930s would take him far from that world, though he would retain, by his own admission, a measure of caution that harked back to his roots.(5) As an aspiring photographer at Howard University and the New York Institute of Photography, he gained exposure to the assorted conventions in photographic depiction of blacks. These included the Colorful Black and Primitive Black seen all too frequently in the mainstream media; the Black Victim featured in Margaret Bourke-White's You Have Seen Their Faces and other visual expressions of leftist outrage; the Transformed Black (dehumanized "befores" giving way to artificial "afters") used by federal, state, and local housing authorities; and the glittering Black Role Model favored by the black press and prominent black photographic firms. McNeill, influenced in part by some of the early FSA photostories, imagined alternatives to the standard approaches.(6)
He initially pursued them in his freelance work for Flash!, a black-edited, Washington-based picture magazine that published his 1937 photographic investigation of the lives of New York City black domestics. One-part expos‚ and one-part ethnographic study, the series anticipated Parks's Ella Watson story by five years.(7) Exposure in Flash! and his Howard contacts brought McNeill to the attention of Federal Writers' Project (FWP) Negro Affairs editor Sterling Brown, who helped launch what was to become The Negro in Virginia study. The Virginia project was ambitious in staffing (an all-black research staff led by Hampton Institute scientist Roscoe Lewis) and in scope, seeking to document three centuries of black history through sources as varied as ex-slave narratives, economic statistics, and photographs.(8)
It was also a project affected by political and cultural pressures coming from several directions. FWP national director Henry Alsberg, besieged at the time of Negro in Virginia planning and editing by congressional investigations of alleged FWP radicalism, could hardly ignore racial subtexts in the attacks of the Dies Committee and later, the Woodrum Committee, headed by Virginia's own powerful Clifton Woodrum.(9) FWP state director Eudora Ramsay Richardson, one of the pivotal editorial reviewers, worried about reactions among potential white readers.(10) Leaders of Virginia black colleges, among whom project organizers lobbied for use of facilities and promises of future book sales, had expectations for an inspirational volume, affirming, as Hampton Institute president Arthur Howe put it, "the outstanding records this minority group has made in the comparatively short period since Emancipation."(11)
McNeill understood the pressures as he discussed the photographic end of the project with Alsberg, Brown, and Lewis at the end of August 1938.
I had the impression they wanted noncontroversial photos. You know, "don't rock the boat." Nobody ever told me not to rock the boat, but that was what I sensed. They wanted fairly positive pictures . . . showing the soul of [black] people in their jobs, and [showing] that people hadn't given up. If I had focused on the more political [topics], the photos would have been filtered out by the editors; they didn't want to seem too partisan.(12)
If these implicit administrative warnings had their effect on McNeill's three-week September journey, so did a more pressing limitation. His short supply of film (160 images made with his Speed Graphic, plus a couple 35mm rolls shot with a borrowed Leica) put a crimp on extended inquiries into social and economic structures. And so did the varieties of resistance that the young black cameraman encountered as he traveled on his own through a state that he had never before visited.
McNeill later recalled the crab-pickers and string-bean pickers who were "not proud of what they were doing."
Remember, some of those people in the [string-bean] field may have escaped from the Deep South, maybe even from chain gangs; anyone who had an authoritative implement like a camera, they interpreted as someone connected with law enforcement. It didn't matter that I was a black photographer. They didn't want their picture taken by anyone.
A more intimidating obstacle confronted McNeill in the small coal town of Pocahontas:
I was driving this Ford black coupe, with "USA" on the license plate. As I pulled into town, this sheriff with a long gun going practically to his knee, stopped me and started in with, "Boy, what are you doing with this USA car?" He emphasized the "boy" and the "USA." I gave him the logical explanation, and he was still suspicious. "Well, I got to check into that!" So I was taken to the sheriff's office, and they telegraphed the [headquarters] office to investigate. Found out I was telling the truth . . . but they never did let me photograph in the mines. Only the show mine.(13)
But despite the limitations, ideological and practical, McNeill managed to generate a much more varied and complex portrait of black Virginians than what the official assignment had implied. He documented workers plying their skills, whether tobacco hogshead rollers in Richmond, newspaper printers in Norfolk, alfalfa balers outside Williamsburg, or an ancient herb doctor in the mountains above Roanoke; but he also caught the unemployed and the under-employed, as in his views of Norfolk longshoremen engaged in the age-old, "casual port" ritual of waiting for uncertain work made even more uncertain by the Great Depression. He recorded worker dignity, but he also recorded annoyance, resentment, and the arrogance of petty authority. The last emerged in a withering view of a Richmond railroad crossing kiosk exhibiting a "No Loafers Allowed" sign and occupied by a glaring black guard who proved to be, as McNeill noted later, "the biggest loafer of them all."(14) The image bore a specific 1930s industry reference (hostility shown by southern railroads toward outside documentarians) as well as broader implications, concerning territoriality and identity in the modern workplace, that crossed racial and occupational lines.(15)
McNeill recorded black achievement, but he also explored interactions between black elites and black masses. His photographic angle inside the offices of Hampton Building and Loan revealed the contrasting postures and clothing of an authoritative black loan officer and his anxious loan applicant. McNeill included his share of positive black role models, but in the process he employed inventive ways of simultaneously raising and countering negative stereotypes. When he posed a Hampton biology instructor and students around a model human skeleton, the supposed object of black fear (under prevailing racial mythology) became instead simply another educational tool.
The photographer provided ample evidence of black economic contributions, but he also looked carefully and sympathetically at impromptu manifestations of community and streetcorner culture of which the reform-minded Negro in Virginia editors were not especially fond.(16) McNeill overcame fears of his own in a venture down Richmond's notoriously dangerous Sophie's Alley. There he photographed a meditative group of card-players in a way that seemed to define "slum" alley space as much by the active consciousness of the residents as by physical degradation.
To be sure, such instances of McNeill innovation were not always tapped in the final selections for The Negro in Virginia, published in 1940. Nevertheless, the McNeill images that were published suggested the dimension seldom acknowledged in illustrated American studies, left or right, of the 1930s-1940s: the nonmonolithic nature of black experience. What's more, amid the FWP's troubled times, The Negro in Virginia drew wide and favorable exposure in the mainstream press.(17)
If McNeill pushed the boundaries of a "black" project, Steve Wright made what, in certain respects, was a further advance. Wright, from a Washington, D.C., working-class background, had in his teens shifted from a standard vocational education to specialized training at the American School of Photography. He then began his federal government career in modest fashion. In 1934 Wright served as a messenger/chauffeur in the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works (FEAPW), filling one of the positions that Secretary of the Interior and FEAPW Administrator Harold Ickes reserved, as Ickes put it later, "exclusively for young colored men."(18) By early 1935 Wright was assembling newspaper clippings for Robert Weaver in the Interior/FEAPW Office of the Adviser on Negro Affairs--another Ickes creation. Fortunately for Wright's photographic career, Ickes' racial progressivism, evinced in the course of many battles over discrimination in public works employment, segregation in National Parks, and other issues, was genuine.(19) So was that of certain younger New Dealers whom Ickes had attracted to FEAPW, including photographic head Hyman Greenberg. Learning of Wright's photographic talents through Weaver, Greenberg recruited Wright in 1935, bucking tradition with a black appointment even at a seemingly bottom-rung level. Recalls Wright:
In those days, it was tough for a black man even to become a file clerk in the government; you didn't fit into the normal civil service rating. You had to mind your P's and Q's, because there were lower-level whites who resented the fact you were doing photography at all, and were waiting for you to stumble. I came in as a "photographic assistant," then Greenberg turned it around to "assistant photographer," and I went up the ladder. Greenberg deserves a lot of credit, like [Fernleigh] Graninger later at State. Everything was Jim Crowed in Washington, and here we'd go out to lunch and he'd push me into places where I wasn't welcome. He knew that. He'd shove it down their throats.(20)
Greenberg balanced an innovative social vision with a narrower photographic formula. FEAPW visual documentation of school, road, bridge, and other infrastructure projects emphasized finished products over process, engineering accomplishments over social context. Wright stayed within the formula, only occasionally working to stretch it, as when he helped Greenberg capture student closeups in a joint coverage of the FEAPW-funded Howard University chemistry lab.(21) There was all the more reason for photographic conservatism when the FEAPW photographic unit was merged in 1937 into a consolidated Interior Photographic Section, given an extremely tight budget, and headed by a veteran National Parks photographer more oriented toward landscape work, George Grant.(22) Explains Wright:
We didn't have the time or the budget to spend weeks in a place, covering families and neighborhoods, the way Parks and the FSA photographers did. Same thing at FWA, and [later] at State. But that was fine with me. I preferred covering bits and pieces everywhere, rather than one thing in-depth.(23)
Wright quickly showed a penchant for photographic efficiency, diplomatic smoothness, and organizational acumen, all skills that were increasingly valued as New Deal picture units underwent further consolidation in 1940. Photographic operations from the Public Works Administration (former FEAPW), Work Projects Administration (former Works Progress Administration, WPA), U.S. Housing Authority (USHA), Public Roads Administration, and Public Buildings Administration were merged into a single Federal Works Agency (FWA) Photographic Section whose personnel, including Wright, were expected to do more with less.
"It is more economical," an FWA budget report noted, "to obtain photographs of the work of several administrations by one travelling photographer than for each administration to secure its photographs separately."(24) While FWA administrators struggled, sometimes clumsily, with racial issues in the hinterland, the agency's public information program sought to give the FWA a mantle of neutrality. "We are essentially an engineering and constructing agency, and our information for the most part is restricted to factual reporting," FWA head Gen. Philip Fleming informed the OWI in 1942.(25) To the extent that USHA and WPA photographers had, on occasions, lingered creatively in areas slated for renovation projects, the FWA focus was almost exclusively on the "afters" rather than the "befores."
Forging an early friendship with amateur photographer Fleming, the twenty-seven-year-old Wright secured appointment as Photographic Section head, coordinating an operation that generated more than 2,400 images a day, including extensive contract printing for war information and military agencies. What was remarkable about this racially integrated, six-man unit (Wright was joined by black photographer Randolph MacDougall) was not the nature of the coverages. Rather, it was the distribution of the assignments.
I wanted to avoid the problem that Roger Smith faced at the OWI [News Bureau], where he was expected to do only the black coverages, and then felt that his work was being sabotaged by [whites] in the lab. So at FWA, our policy was that the assignment, regardless of the subject, went to whoever happened to be available that moment. And the same person who did the shooting then did all the lab work for that coverage, so there'd be no question about control.(26)
Just as Smith showed maximum creativity in the very few non-black coverages that he was able to generate, Wright seemed to thrive with "white" assignments. His 1943 coverage of the FWA-funded United Nations Service Center near Union Station in Washington included a view of three white men poking their heads out of shower stalls in unison ("Come on in, the water's fine!"). This light-hearted departure from the deadly earnest FWA norm also represented a quiet triumph for a black man who, by Washington's segregation tradition, should not have been mixing with whites, much less directing them, in this body-conscious setting. Significantly, the single image of which Wright would be the proudest from his government career, taken for the Department of State in 1948, depicted private-school white children visiting the Lincoln Memorial, with a half-amusing, half-intimidating angle showing a massive Lincoln towering over minuscule human forms.(27)
Wright's determination not to be pigeon-holed as a photographer specializing in black subjects continued in a different context. After shifting to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) photographic lab in early 1945 to work with visual presentations, Wright was one of several OSS photographers loaned to the Department of State for official coverage of the historic United Nations Conference on International Organization in San Francisco. The typical New Deal or OWI approach would have had Wright focusing on the "black" angles within the UN story, such as the role of Ralph Bunche or the activities of the Haitian delegation. Instead, Wright, working quickly but also delicately amid a dense field of political egoes and national sensibilities, photographed arrivals, speeches, and signings for the full range of delegations, Soviet to Australian.
The point was to get the whole story out to the world. In a way, being black was an advantage, because I was noticed immediately, and if I was going to encounter any problem from security people, it was going to happen early on and get worked out then and there. So after the first day, everyone knew me and I went wherever I wanted.(28)
The productive San Francisco assignment provided a natural bridge for Wright's twenty-five-year career at State. Had Wright only served as a staff photographer during that time, his presence might be dismissed as a token appointment by a department becoming, ever so gradually in the 1950s and 1960s, more sensitive to the negative impact of American race relations on the American image abroad, especially in the Third World.(29) But Wright attained Photographic Branch chief status as early as 1954 and operated successfully on multiple fronts. He created State's first central photographic file on diplomatic personalities, events, and facilities. Coordinating efforts with a key white official, Visual Services Division chief Fernleigh Graninger, he worked to heighten the profile of the domestic visual program at State, all the while opening doors for other black and minority photographers (including McNeill in 1957). Recalls Graninger:
There was certainly resistance when I made Wright branch chief. This was long before EEO, before the push to integrate the foreign service. State didn't have any blacks at that level. But we wore the resistance down. When you saw the kind of person Steve was, when you saw the way he handled important coverages to make sure the Secretary or some other dignitary wasn't caught in some [embarrassing] pose, when you saw the way he worked with our staff putting up those exhibits [on visits of foreign heads of state] within hours of the head of state's arrival . . . then you realized why no one spoke ill of Steve.(30)
Wright, McNeill, and Whitney Keith accounted for over a third of the more than 110,000 images generated by State from the late 1940s to the mid-1970s. Hallmarks of pictorial innovation were rare. The black photographers, like their white colleagues, churned out standard portraits of State luminaries from Acheson to Kissinger and coverages of swearing-in ceremonies, diplomatic visits, treaty-signings, press conferences, and State functions that provided visual reminders of stability, formality, and commanding foreign-policy intellect. McNeill did provide a few more original flourishes. His sensitivity to process was reflected in a 1961 series on background preparations for a State dinner, his humor in a 1973 view of news photographers all but dominating the treaty-signing event that they were photographing, and perhaps a hint of irreverence in a 1957 shot of the notably sparse audience attending Secretary Christian Herter's lecture on the role of women in U.S. foreign policy.(31) But Wright's agenda lay elsewhere, as he notes:
McNeill and the others understood that to try to force more [documentary] subject matter would have been counterproductive. The point was that when you covered the powerful people, the Kennedys and Rockefellers, you were going to be better treated, and better paid. Powerful people wanted service. I can remember even [Senator Theodore] Bilbo, who spent so much time putting down black people, was polite as could be when he wanted us to do his portrait. . . . Grade 7 was the [pay-scale] "hump" blacks in government hadn't been able to get over. I got people over it.(32)
There was a trade-off, of course. Advancement came in return for what McNeill acknowledges was a quietness about the civil rights storm swirling beyond the walls of the State Department. Academic photohistorians will see elements of racial betrayal here; more realistic observers will recognize elements of a strategic professionalism. Wright's success working within the conservative State system established an important precedent for other civilian agencies. In more recent decades, black photographers, far from being anomalies, have played decisive roles across government: Richard Saunders and Dwight Somers at the U.S. Information Agency, Ann Thomas at State, Billy Rose at Labor, Ronald Bell at Commerce, Tony Jackson at the Office of Personnel Management, Ed Gillette at the Internal Revenue Service, Chris Smith at Health and Human Services, and John Jones and Gerald Dean at Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Although ceremonial stories have been prevalent of late, these photographers have managed to seize opportunities, here and there, for more creative offerings. Witness Dean's intriguingly ambiguous 1985 shot from an otherwise predictable coverage of a presentation at HUD by Vice President George Bush. He juxtaposed a portrait of Martin Luther King, Jr., hanging over a seated Bush, waiting to speak, hand gripping a bowed forehead in a gesture that could pass for meditation, discomfort, or both.(33) The wit recalled McNeill; the access recalled Wright. The synthesis was Dean's, the photographer acting simultaneously as an insider and an outsider, official photographer and independent eye.
How did you deal with your blackness? With regard to government photographers, past and present, perhaps it is time for a new question.
1. Robert McNeill, interview by author, Jan. 10, 1993.
2. See, for example, Maren Stange, Symbols of Ideal Life: Social Documentary Photography in America, 1890-1950 (1989); James Curtis, Mind's Eye, Mind's Truth: FSA Photography Reconsidered (1989); Maurice Berger, How Art Becomes History: Essays on Art, Society, and Culture in Post Neal Deal America (1992); Wendy Kozol, Life's America (1994); Andrea Fisher, Let Us Now Praise Famous Women: Women Photographers for the U.S. Government, 1935-1944 (1987); Pete Daniel and Sally Stein, eds., Official Images: New Deal Photography (1987); Allan Sekula, "On the Invention of Photographic Meaning," in Photography in Print: Writings from 1816 to the Present, ed. Vicki Goldberg (1981); John Tagg, The Burden of Representation: Essays on Photographs and Histories (1981).
3. On the Ella Watson series, see Beverly Brannan and Carl Fleischhauer, eds., Documenting America (1988), pp. 226-239. Gordon Parks, Choice of Weapons (1966; reprint, 1986); and Parks, Voices in the Mirror: An Autobiography (1990).
4. McNeill's complete Virginia series is in the photographer's personal collection, Washington, DC. Eleven selected images were reproduced in Roscoe Lewis, ed., The Negro in Virginia (1940), and two others in Federal Writers' Project, Virginia: A Guide to the Old Dominion (1940; reprint, 1946). McNeill's and Wright's Department of State photographs are in Record Group (RG) 59, Series N, G, O, BP, SE, BL, and JB, Still Picture Branch, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Wright's FEAPW photographs are in RG 69, Series PWA, and his FWA photographs are in RG 162, Series G, FWA, WP, and PBA. Smith's OWI work is in RG 208, Series NP, Still Picture Branch, NARA, and in Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. For an extended account of McNeill's Virginia work, see Nicholas Natanson, "Robert McNeill and the Profusion of Virginia Experience," Visual Journal: Harlem and D.C. in the Thirties and Forties, ed. Deborah Willis and Jane Lusaka (1996), pp. 97-147. Further material on Smith's OWI work is included in Natanson, "Robert McNeill and Black Government Photographers," History of Photography 19 (Spring 1995): 20-31.
5. McNeill interview.
6. Erskine Caldwell and Margaret Bourke-White, You Have Seen Their Faces (1937; reprint, 1995). For full exposition and analysis of representational types, see Natanson, The Black Image in the New Deal (1992), pp. 16-48.
7. "Bronx Slave Market," Flash! 1 (Feb. 14, 1938): 8-10. 8. Federal Writers' Project, entry 27, Reports and Miscellaneous Records Relating to Negro Studies, 1936-1940, boxes 200-201, Records of the Work Projects Administration, RG 69, NARA. See especially Brown to Frances Kendrick, "Projected Books Concerning Negroes," Jan. 3, 1939, in box 201, Negro Books folder.
9. "Testimony Cited on WPA Book Bias," New York Times, Nov. 27, 1938, p. 1. See also New York Times reports of Woodrum Committee hearings, especially May 2, 1939, p. 1, and June 7, 1939, p. 1; and accounts in Jerre Mangione, The Dream and the Deal: The Federal Writers' Project, 1935-1943 (1972).
10. See, for example, Richardson to Alsberg, Nov. 27, 1937, Federal Writers' Project, entry 13, Editorial Correspondence, box 52, Negro in Virginia folder, RG 69, NARA.
11. Howe to Alsberg, Sept. 16, 1936, Federal Writers' Project, entry 27, box 201, Negro books folder, RG 69, NARA. See also "Federal Writers Dig into History of Race in Virginia, Pull Out Forgotten Plums of Prowess, Achievement," Chicago Defender, June 4, 1938, pp. 6-7.
12. McNeill interview. On Writers' Project photographic planning and McNeill appointment, see entry 13, box 52, Negro in Virginia folder, RG 69, NARA, especially Richardson to Alsberg, Aug. 20, 1938.
13. McNeill interview.
14. Ibid. On Richmond tobacco worker context, see survey records in entry 289, Records of the Tobacco Unit, box 1, Tobacco Workers folder, Records of the National Recovery Administration, RG 9, NARA. On longshore "casual port" context, see Boris Stern, "Longshore Labor Conditions and Port Decasualization in the U.S.," Monthly Labor Review 22 (December 1933): 1299-1306.
15. McNeill interview. See also Roscoe Lewis correspondence with Norfolk and Western Railway Company, April 1938, Roscoe Lewis Papers, Virginia Writers' Project box, Miscellaneous Administrative Papers folder, Hampton University Archives, Hampton, VA.
16. See, for example, Lewis's negative commentary on auto interest, Negro in Virginia, p. 350.
17. For example, "The Negro Workers of Virginia," New York Times, Aug. 11, 1940, sec. 6, p. 11; Jonathan Daniels, "History of the Negro," Saturday Review of Literature, Sept. 7, 1940, p. 15; and Martin Singer, "The Negro As He Is in Virginia," Richmond Times-Dispatch, July 14, 1940, sec. 4, p. 7.
18. Harold Ickes to Raymond McKeough, July 6, 1935, entry 749A, Central Classified Files, 1907-1936, Class 1-280, box 506, Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, RG 48, NARA. See also Ickes to Archibald MacLeish, May 21, 1942, entry 749B, Central Classified Files, 1937-1953, Class 1-188, box 2807, RG 48, NARA.
19. See Ickes to Butler Wilson, Jan. 25, 1934, and Ickes to Walter White, June 25, 1935, entry 749A, Class 1-280, box 506, RG 48, NARA; and extensive Ickes exchanges with National Park Service officials, other Interior staff, and members of Congress in entry 749B, Class 12-0, box 3791.
20. James Stephen Wright, interview by author, Sept. 27, 1996.
21. See 69-PWA-21-1424 and 1426, Still Picture Branch, NARA.
22. On Interior photographic reorganization, see Secretary of Interior Order #1248, Feb. 16, 1938, entry 489, Division of Information: Correspondence and Related Records, box 3, Secretary's Orders folder, RG 48, NARA; and Michael Straus to E. K. Burlew, March 16, 1938, entry 489, box 4, Miscellaneous correspondence folder, RG 48, NARA.
23. Wright interview.
24. From Photographic and Exhibits Unit Budget Justification, Fiscal Year 1942, entry 5, Correspondence of General Philip Fleming, box 2, Budget folder, General Records of the Federal Works Agency, RG 162, NARA. See also FWA history enclosed with correspondence, Estelle Frankfurter to M. L. Ramsay, Nov. 4, 1942, entry 29, Records Concerning Liaison with OWI and Its Successor, box 2, Correspondence folder 5, RG 162, NARA.
25. Fleming to Elmer Davis, July 20, 1942, entry 29, box 2, Correspondence folder 5, RG 162, NARA.
26. Wright interview.
27. See, for example, Roger Smith's 1943 coverage of all-white Scotts' Hotel for women war workers in Washington, DC, including "Lover's Lane" view, 208-NP-5UUU-1, Still Picture Branch, NARA. Wright's FWA shower scene, 162-WP-53-F6230; and Lincoln Memorial image, 59-G-231-VS-827-57.
28. Wright interview. For UN Conference photographic planning and deployment, see Minutes of Meeting Held in Hiss' Office, Mar. 21, 1945, and San Francisco Notes, No. 3, Apr. 5, 1945, entry 359.1, Records Relating to S.F. Conference, box 1, jacket 1, General Records of the Department of State, RG 59, NARA.
29. See, for example, State summary report, "Treatment of Minorities in the U.S.--Impact on Our Foreign Relations," enclosed with John Calhoun memo to Gerald Morgan, Dec. 31, 1958, Central Decimal File, 811.411/12-458, box 4159, RG 59, NARA; and numerous embassy messages on reactions to civil rights controversies and DC-area segregation, 811.411, 1950-1954, box 4438; 1955-1959, boxes 4157-4158; and 1960-1963, boxes 2310-2311.
30. Fernleigh Graninger, interview by author, Oct. 19, 1996. See also Richard Fox, "Foreign Affairs Education for Minority Students," Department of State News Letter, November 1963, pp. 14, 44; and "New Drive for Affirmative Action is Launched," State News Letter, December 1977, pp. 5-10.
31. State dinner, 59-N-VS-1441 (1-14)-61; treaty-signing, 59-SE-4-VS-241A-73; Herter address, 59-G-101-VS-2717-57, Still Picture Branch, NARA.
32. Wright interview.
33. Bush image, 207-N-6134-3-18A, Still Picture Branch, NARA.