Hugh Mangum Photographs

Hundreds of portraits made by an itinerant photographer who rode the trains to the small towns of North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. More »

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About the Digital Collection »

Hugh Mangum, an itinerant photographer from a prominent Durham, North Carolina, family, traveled a rail circuit through North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. Along this route he took portraits of a remarkable variety of people, rendering a rich and diverse pictorial history of the region at the turn of the 20th century. At the beginning of his photographic career in the early 1890s, Mangum maintained a darkroom in a tobacco pack house on the Mangum farm at West Point on the Eno River in Durham. Over the years, he moved to Virginia and partnered with colleagues to operate photography studios in Roanoke, Pulaski, and East Radford, Virginia. The Friends of West Point and other organizations, individuals, and Mangum family members worked together to restore Hugh Mangum's darkroom and to open the "Hugh Mangum Museum of Photography" at West Point Park on the Eno River in 1986. That same year, the Association for the Preservation of the Eno River Valley gave Hugh Mangum's glass plate negatives to the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library at Duke University.

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Source Collection

This digital collection comprises selected materials from the following archival collection at David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library:

Hugh Mangum photographs circa 1890-1922

Collection #RL.00841 | 10 Linear Feet (38 boxes; 2 oversize folders)

Hugh Mangum was a commercial portrait photographer from Durham, North Carolina. Collection comprises 937 glass plate negatives and printed black-and-white photographs taken by Hugh Mangum from about 1890 to 1922 as he traveled a rail circuit through North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia and in photography studios he and partners established in Durham, N.C., and Roanoke, Pulaski, and East Radford, Virginia. Localities known to have been visited by Mangum in N.C. include Winston-Salem, High Point, Raleigh, Reidsville, Lexington, Durham, and Greensboro; in Virginia, Christiansburg, Martinsville, East Radford, and Pulaski. The images are chiefly individual and group portraits of mostly unidentified women, children, and men, either in unidentified studio settings or outdoors. Most are white men and women, but there are also many African Americans and others who may be multi-racial. Hugh Mangum and his wife are present in several images. There are several street scenes identified as Radford, Virginia, as well as Warrenton (probably N.C.), and Christiansburg, Virginia. Some images feature houses, barns, mills, outdoor social gatherings, and animals. The last dated photograph in the collection is a mounted print of Mangum's body in an open casket, 1922. Of the photographic prints, there are 55 prints made from selected negatives, and 50 inkjet digital prints from a 2012 exhibit. Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.

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