About the Hamblin Studio Photograph Collection, Suffolk Public Library

About the Hamblin Studio and Photographers | Format of Original Images | Related Resources | Search Tips

The Hamblin Studio collection, which today numbers 1,365 images, contains numerous studio portraits commissioned by local residents plus photographs of sports teams, fraternal organizations, and musical, school, and church groups. There are many portraits of individuals associated with business, commerce, manufacturing, education, government, and religion. There are also photographs of public utilities, medical facilities, businesses, churches, community events, local unions, manufacturing plants, such as Planter's Peanuts, and schools, including black private schools, segregated public schools, and integrated public schools. The dated images range from 1909 through 1979 although numerous images lack dates. The collection includes images from Nansemond County and City prior to 1974 when Nansemond merged with Suffolk. The Hamblin photographs are also an excellent documentary resource for African-American community life in Suffolk,

About the Hamblin Studio and Photographers

The Hamblin Studio collection represents the accumulated output of four photographers working between approximately 1910 and 1975. A Mr. White owned the studio from about 1890 through World War I. In 1910, a Mr. Caffey became White's partner. They operated the business until 1918 when they sold it to Fred Hamblin. Hamblin owned the studio until 1957 when it was bought by William Moore. In 1983 Joseph Wiseman bought the studio including the negative inventory accumulated by the previous owners. The collection was transferred to the City of Suffolk in 1989. The online collection consists of images of 259 glass plate negatives, 978 film negatives, and 128 photographic prints.

Format of Original Images

The images were scanned from 8 x 10 inch glass plate negatives, 4 x 5 inch and 5 x 7 inch film negatives, and photographic prints of varying sizes. Most of the images are black and white.

Suffolk Public Library System

Related Resources

Hobbs, Kermit, and Paquette, William A. Suffolk: A Pictorial History. Norfolk and Virginia Beach: The Donning Company, 1987.

Maguire, Carole Contois. Suffolk Journal (Suffolk, Va.: 1986- ).

Whichard, Rogers Dey. The History of Lower Tidewater Virginia (New York: Lewis Historical Pub. Co., 1959. 3 v.).

Search Tips

Punctuation and capitalization are disregarded. Entries in this database are arranged in letter-by-letter alphabetical order. In addition to the regular searches, you may click on any highlighted element of a database record such as a title) to initiate a search on that element. 

Each record in the Hamblin Studio Photograph Collection database consists of:


Titles consist of brief descriptions of the image taken from the housing of the print or negative (e.g. folder, envelope, sleeve, etc.).  Titles can be searched by using keywords in a Basic (keyword) search (Words in Title) or by a Browse search with the title index.



The date the photograph was taken (if known) is recorded in the database record.  Dates are keyword searchable.  Examples of dates are:


Notes consist of additional descriptive information not used in the title or other information supplied by the cataloger.  All of the information in the notes is keyword searchable.

Image Numbers

Image numbers were arbitrarily assigned to the photographs as they were cataloged and are visible only in the MARC display. These numbers are keyword-searchable.

Examples: image numbers:

The image number must always have a two-letter prefix followed by four digits.

Subject Headings

Each record contains one or more subject headings. Words found within subject headings are keyword searchable.


Click on the URL at the top of the full record display to view the digitized image.

For more detailed help with searching, click on the "Help" link on the main search screen and scroll down to "Search Functions" and "Search Tips."

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