The Teenie Harris online collection contains 541 images taken by Pittsburgh photographer Charles “Teenie” Harris that documents life in the black communities of Pittsburgh from the 1920s to the 1970s. The images show weddings, funerals, family portraits, church events, street scenes, businessmen, and mill workers. The majority of the prints in the collection were chosen to represent online.
Images were selected for their unique ability to illustrate various aspects of Pittsburgh in an artistic light.
What’s in the entire collection
The collection, held by the Carnegie Museum of Art, comprises more than eighty thousand images taken between 1935 and 1975. Most images are negatives, though there are over six hundred prints in the collection.
About Teenie Harris
In a forty-year career as a freelance and staff photographer for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the oldest black newspapers in the country, Teenie Harris amassed a photo-historical record nearly unrivaled in the archives of urban American life. The late Clarence Rollo Turner, a sociologist and historian of black history, said Harris' work constitutes "one of the most complete chronologies of a black community in the United States."
The value of Harris' legacy lies not only in the sheer volume of images, but also in the range and expressiveness of the pictures he took. Unlike his better-known contemporaries, such as James Van Der Zee, who focused on studio portraits, and Gordon Parks, who traveled extensively to pursue his craft, Harris' milieu was the spontaneous documentation of daily life in his own community. Working for the Courier and out of his personal studio from the 1930s to the 1970s, Harris photographed documented the realities of a segregated Pittsburgh at mid-century, and the efforts of black Americans in their fight for civil rights.