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About the Portsmouth Public Library Photograph Collection

Portsmouth Olde Towne Photograph Collection | Lee F. Rodgers Photograph Collection
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About the Collection

The photograph collection housed at the Portsmouth Public Library consists of 15,000-20,000 photographic prints as well as a large number of negatives and slides. The photographs date back to the late 1800s and cover a myriad of subjects including historic buildings, homes, churches, schools, commercial establishments, businesses, social and civic events, military life, local citizens and civic leaders, and a significant collection of images depicting the life and history of Portsmouth's black community dating back to the 1930s.

Many of the photographs were taken by newspaper photographers such as Lee F. Rodgers of the Portsmouth Star and amateur historians such as John Cloyd Emmerson and James Arthur Murdaugh who took block-by-block photographs of the city between the 1920s and the 1950s.

Portsmouth Olde Towne Photograph Collection

The Olde Towne Photograph Collection consists of approximately 800 photographs of homes, churches, streets, commercial structures, and other historic sites located in and near the historic downtown area of Portsmouth known as Olde Towne. A number of the Olde Towne photographs were the work of George Cloyd Emmerson and James Arthur Murdaugh. The cataloging and digitization of this collection was funded by a grant from the Olde Towne Civic League Foundation.

Lee F. Rodgers Photograph Collection

Lee F. Rodgers was a reporter for the Portsmouth Star during the 1950s and 1960s and wrote the "Colored Notes" column. The Rodgers collection consists of approximately 1,600 photographic prints originally displayed in nine (9) albums or binders. A number of the photographs were taken by Rodgers himself, and many were used to illustrate his column. Most of the photographs are undated but generally span the decades between the 1920s and 1960s. Subjects represented include: servicemen and women; individuals and families; fraternal organizations and clubs; vocal groups; schools; recreational, social, and cultural activities; and events related to civil rights and desegregation.

Portsmouth Public Library

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