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Charles Richardson Photographs, 1952-1954, AIS.2013.10
Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

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What's online

The online collection contains 46 images taken by Charles Richardson between 1952 and 1955 that depict life in the Pittsburgh area. The images presented online all originate from his book, Pittsburgh, published by Blurb in 2013. The image descriptions were provided by Richardson.

What's in the entire collection

The entire collection, held by the Archive Services Center (ASC) at the University of Pittsburgh, consists of the digital images from his book.

About Charles Richardson

At the age of 22 Charles Richardson moved to Pittsburgh in April 1952 from his native Dallas, Texas, eventually finding work at Westinghouse Electric in East Pittsburgh. He commuted from the Shadyside station on the Pennsylvania Railroad from his rooming house in Oakland. Shortly after beginning his explorations of Pittsburgh on foot, he bought a cheap Kodak, his first camera, to record some of what he was seeing. He graduated to a Sport Rolleiflex to get better negatives and used the bathroom of his rooming house as darkroom to develop his film and print his photos.

According to Richardson, he only kept and eventually published his very best photographs, which comprise the 46 images in his book, Pittsburgh, published by Blurb. The photographs were taken between 1952 and 1955 when the mills were in full production, and at a time he believes were some of the best days of Pittsburgh.

His job at Westinghouse as an order service clerk took him all over the plant where switchgear was made, including the offices where many of the engineers worked. In 1954, inspired by his work at Westinghouse, he quit and enrolled full time at the University of Pittsburgh majoring in Mechanical Engineering with additional courses in Thermodynamics and Physics. He changed his major to Physics and received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1957. While he was at Pitt, he worked part-time in the Engineering Research Lab on Fifth Avenue near Robinson Street in the Hill District. Here he earned money as a photographer including taking pictures of bomb racks which the Navy paid Pitt to stress to failure. Richardson received his Ph.D. in 1962 and had careers at the University of Washington and the University of Arkansas.

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