About the Digital Collection
The collection consists of the contents of a photographic album entitled "Portraits of Members," containing 117 photographs of men, women, and children, both singly and in groups. The album might have been used by clients in the studio to select the backdrop and props they wanted in their photographs. The majority of the subjects appear to be African-American. The photographs represent the work of Michael Francis Blake from the 1910s to his death in 1934.
This digital collection comprises selected materials from the following archival collection at David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library:
Michael Francis Blake photographs circa 1912-1934 and undated
Collection #RL.00119 | 1.0 Linear Feet; 3 boxes
Michael Francis Blake was one of Charleston, South Carolina's first African American studio photographers. The collection consists of the contents of a photographic album entitled "Portraits of Members," containing 117 photographs of African American men, women, and children, both singly and in family groups, most of them taken by Blake from the 1910s to his death in 1934. The predominant style of the photographs is the formal studio pose; some prints are stamped with Blake's studio location in Charleston, S.C., though some formal images shot in the collection were taken in other locations. There are some informal snapshots that may or may not have been taken by Blake. Formats include 91 photographic postcards and 27 black-and-white prints, many on cardstock mounts; there are also eight negatives. Thirty-five individuals in the photographs have been identified, including a portrait of the photographer. Collection includes a complete set of copy prints and the original album from which the prints were removed and rehoused. Part of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture at Duke University.