It was in the 1930’s, as the Cleage brothers reached their twenties, that the “art photos” began. Before that, there are some actual studio photos and lots of snapshots. Then we begin to get photos like these, where someone was experimenting, this time with shadow. The first photo to the upper right is of Paul Payne. There was another photo of him, younger, with Hugh Cleage here. Paul was a long time friend of the Cleage family. Above on the left we have the verso of Paul’s photo which says “Tried for shadows in this also?” All three of these photos have the same number.. To the right, we have Barbara Cleage with a double shadow. And below right we have Anna Cleage and Paul, again with strong shadows.
From this period we have many posed portraits of family members. Some are 8 x 10 and some are snap shots. None of them are signed so I don’t know who took them except for the ones that my father took of my mother in California since he was the only one there. The largest group of snapshots taken during this time, including last week’s Wordless Wednesday photographs of the winter scenes, were taken at the Meadows. (Go to the last paragraph on the linked page to learn more about the Meadows) There are over one hundred of them, from all seasons and spread over several years. My Aunt Gladys confirmed that her brother Hugh did set up a darkroom in the basement.
During the 1960’s Henry and Hugh went into the printing business. They had several presses, a darkroom, an enlarger and more cameras. I have boxes and boxes that used to hold 5 X 7 film that now hold photographs taken during that time. More in the weeks to come. To see more Sepia Saturday entries click HERE.
This week I spent hours putting my photographs from the paternal side in order. First by grouping them into piles according to the numbers on the reverse side. After dividing them up by number, I then started dating the files. I was able to determine who some of the babies were in later photos by which siblings were already there and how old they were. I will show some of these in a later post. It’s been slow going and I almost missed Sepia Saturday. However I thought I should make an entry. Above you see some of the piles.
These two photographs have the same number. I have wondered for years if that boy with the stocking cap on standing next to the car was my father. When I saw the photo of my Uncle Louis (on the left) and my father, Albert, with the stocking cap, I saw it was him. There are other photos that have both boys that have different numbers but they appear to be taken at the same time on one of the family’s annual trips to Athens Tennessee, my grandfather’s hometown. One brother, Edward, remained in Athens. The rest of the family ended up first in Indianapolis, IN and then in Detroit, MI.
Today I spread all my Cleage photos out on the table and began putting them into order by number or date. While I was doing this, I found another photograph in the sequence that I posted about twice this week. Click here to see the photo of my grandparents, where I speculate that it was taken soon after their marriage. Several people wondered what he was holding over his shoulder. Click here to read about my discovery of the numbers on the back of most of the photographs.
I can see the people more clearly in this group photograph but, it is in bad shape. Starting from the left, are two headless women and I don’t know who they are. The little girl is my Aunt Barbara, next to her is my Uncle Hugh, Uncle Louis, Uncle Henry, Theodore Page (who looks like he has a double), a mystery girl, and the FLAG that my grandfather held over his shoulder. Behind them are, an unknown man, my great grandmother Celia Rice Cleage Sherman, her son Jacob, my father Albert “Toddy”, three people I don’t know then my grandfather Albert B. Cleage Sr. In the background are some other people. I don’t know who they are or where they are.
The Graham sisters were on my Finding Eliza blog, along with the next generation of Cleage sisters – my sister and me. Here are my aunts, the original Cleage sisters in the early 1940’s. Barbara, Gladys and Anna. For more Sepia Saturday posts click here.
This photograph is dated September 1, 1919. The people from left to right are – my Grandfather Mershell C. Graham (aka Poppy), Mrs. Hicks from Chicago and Moses L. Walker. They seem to be having a picnic. I don’t know who Mrs. Hicks is. She only appears in the photos from this day. Uncle Moses wasn’t actually our uncle. He was the uncle of our cousins and an old friend of my grandparents from Montgomery, Alabama. My grandparents roomed with the Walkers when they first moved up to Detroit in 1918 and they were my Aunt Mary V.’s Godparents.
I have transcribed below part of an interview my cousin Margret did with Uncle Moses daughter, Mignon.
Today is May 15, 1986. I am going to interview Mignon Walker Brown, my cousin.
Margaret: So now where did your mother and father meet? Mignon: In Memphis. Margaret: And how did that come about? Have you any idea? Mignon: Yes. My father was from Montgomery but he went to Tuskegee to School. And he became a protégé of Dr. George Washington Carver and he wanted to go to business school so Dr. Carver made arrangements for him to get a job at Iowa State University to go to the business school for a year. Margaret: George Washington Carver? Mignon: George Washington Carver. Margaret: Not Booker T. Washington? Mignon: George Washington Carver. Margaret: I never knew that. Mignon: As a matter of fact, my father was very disappointed when I was born that I wasn’t a boy because I was to be named George Washington Carver. (Laughter.)
At any rate, Daddy went to Iowa and stayed the year. He did not graduate because he thought he had made an A in one course and they gave him a B and he would not accept the diploma. But he left there and his older sister lived in what was then Indian Territory before it became the State of Oklahoma. Margaret: Which sister was that? Susan? Mignon: His oldest sister Annie. Margaret: Annie? Mignon: Not Annie, Susie, his oldest sister Susie who was married and living there. And his occupation was to…. he had a mule that he rode and sold Bibles to the Indians. And in his last illness we were sitting… there used to be a program on television. He would look at this town and say, My goodness, the people who did these sets certainly knew what they were doing because it looked exactly like that town because he had traveled throughout the West.
He came back and went to Mississippi and worked for a man who had a grocery store, a general store, and he used to go to Memphis to buy for the store and in those days he had just come from the West and he wore his hair like Buffalo Bill, long and they used to tease my mother about her boyfriend with the curls. But anyway, this is how she met him because he went to Memphis to buy for the store. Margaret: And what did she do? What was she doing then? Mignon: My mother? Margaret: Umm humm. Mignon: Just living with my grandmother. She didn’t do anything. Margaret: Where did she go to school? Mignon: Chicago. She finished high school in Chicago. Margaret: I see. Mignon: And she became a milliner. Then she decided to go back to Memphis and she didn’t have to work. Margaret: Now they married in Memphis? Mignon: They married in Memphis and went to Washington to live. They married in 1908. At that time my father was working in the Treasury Department in Washington.
I’m in the front, my mother is propping up my sister Pearl. My father took the photo in our yard. He was the pastor of St. John’s Congregational Church in Springfield Massachusetts and we lived in the parsonage/community house right next to the church. We moved to my parents hometown, Detroit, when I was four where we still had plenty of snow.
These photographs are in a crumpling album that my father put together back in the 1940’s. He wrote comments on all the photographs. I have to photograph or scan them before they disappear.
This photo is from a small black album I got from my uncle Henry. It had a lot of small photographs that look like they were cut from a contact sheet. They were pasted on themed pages, a page for my father, a page for each of his siblings, a page for several close family friends, etc. The pages and pictures aren’t labeled. I hope my aunts can shed some light on who the people in the picture are and if it was taken at the Meadows near Detroit. Judging by the ages of the people I know in the album I think the photos were taken in the early 1940’s.
I worked all day yesterday pulling together records and information to write about why Aunt Willie might have been sitting so far from her husband, Uncle Victor, in my last weeks photo. I was going to use the photo on the left side which was taken on the same porch. I was going to talk about her relative’s memories of her as sad and obessesed with her daughter and her well being. About how her husband’s well known unfaithfulness, the death of two of her three children within three years of each other, the son her husband fathered earlier in the same year they were married and how the son, Victor Julius Tulane, and his mother lived right down the street from them in 1900.
Then I got interested in Victor Tulane’s early history, his mother who was a servant and probably former slave of Louis Tulane in Elmore County Alabama and his son, Horatio Tulane, who was twenty years her senior and Victor’s father. I was going to mention that the Tulane family recognized the relationship. How they were a merchant family and that after Victor packed his bags at age twleve and walked the 14 miles from Wetumpka to Montgomery, he became a very successful merchant too.
I was going to mention that Victor’s son, Victor Julius came to live with the family when he was in his teens and was sent to school in Michigan where he became a chemist. But at that point I decided to google Victor J. Tulane and see if I could find a picture of him because I did not have one. I like to have pictures. I had heard he looked very like Naomi, his half sister, but he had blue, blue eyes. I found two photographs of him, both from Crisis magazine. Then I thought I would look for his father. I found a group photograph with him in the Alabama Archives. I was on a roll, why not try to find a picture of Naomi’s husband, Ubert Conrad Vincent who was a well known black doctor in New York during the 1920’s. He pioneered a medical procedure that is known as the Vincent procedure. Here is where I hit the jackpot. I found an 8 page article from the Journal of the National Medical Association, 1975. That gave an in depth look at his whole medical career with 5 photographs, including one of him and his wife Naomi soon after their marriage. Naomi and Ubert’s daughter told me that they met at a cast party for the first black Broadway musical at the home of Noble Sissle so I looked for a cast photo. Found. Last, I looked for a photo of their residence on Striver’s Row in Harlem. Still there and lookin’ good.
Now I will identify the photographs in the collage above, starting from the bottom left.
1. The Crisis Jun-Jul 1959. “First Church – Dr. Victor J Tulane (L), chairman of the trustee board of the John Wesley AME Zion church, Washington, D.C., presents chairman Theodore Taylor of the Washington branch a $100 check toward his church’s NAACP life memership. …”
2. “Dr. Vincent in the door of his Sanatorium”.
3. Noble Sissle with chorus girls from the musical “Shuffle Along”.
4. “Dr. Vincent (right at table) assisting Dr. Keyes (?) in an operation at Bellevue.” (Journal of the National Medical Association January 1975)
1. The Crisis Oct 1933 ” Awards To Dr. Victor J. Tulane of the University of Michigan, election to Sigma, Xi, honorary science fraternity. Mr. Tulane was awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy by the University of Michigan in June.”
2. A blow up of Victor Hugh Tulane’s head from the group photo above.
3. Skipping over to the group shot on the far right of that row – from the Journal – “Dr. Vincent (right) with (from left) Dr. Marshall Ross, Hon Adam Clayton Powell, Jr, and Mayor McKee.”
1.Tuskegee College Board of Directors. Front row center is Booker T. Washington. Back row far right is Victor H. Tulane (Willie’s husband. Naomi’s father)
2. From the Journal “Dr. and Mrs. Vincent shortly after their marriage.”
3. From google street view, the place the Vincents called home.