Hugh Mangum photographs, circa 1890-1922
Using These Materials
- Original glass plate negatives are closed to patron use. Print and digital copies are available. Collection may contain materials to which the Acknowledgment of Legal Responsibilities and Privacy...
- Mangum, Hugh, 1877-1922
- Hugh Mangum was a commercial portrait photographer from Durham, North Carolina. Collection contains 937 glass plate negatives and printed black-and-white photographs taken by 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 Roanoke, Pulaski, and East Radford, Virginia. The images are chiefly individual and group portraits of residents in those areas - women, children, and men, either in a studio setting or outdoors. The majority are white men and women, but there are also many African Americans. Some people have been identified; Mangum and his wife are present in several images. There are several street scenes from Radford, as well as Warrenton (probably N.C.), and Christiansburg, Virginia. 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.
10 Linear Feet
38 boxes; 2 oversize folders
- Material in English
- Collection ID:
- Scope and Content:
The Hugh Mangum Photographs collection dates from approximately 1890 through 1922, and contains 937 glass plate negatives and a selection of black-and-white prints, of portraits and scenes taken by Hugh Mangum, a portrait photographer based in Durham, North Carolina. There is also a set of 25 exhibit prints and 25 smaller viewing prints from a 2012 Center for Documentary Studies exhibit curated by a Duke University student.
The images were taken as Mangum traveled a rail circuit through North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. He also likely took some of these images in the photography studios he and partners established in Roanoke, Pulaski, and East Radford, Virginia. Communities marked on a few of the plates include Warrenton (probably North Carolina rather than Virginia), and Christiansburg, 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, Martinsville, East Radford, and Pulaski. From an annotated trunk lid found in the collection it seems he also visited Texas but it is unknown if any of the images in the collection were taken there.
The images are chiefly individual and group portraits of local residents, although there are several town scenes with landmark buildings. There are women, children, and men, either in a studio setting or outdoors; the majority are white but there are many African Americans. There are buildings such as barns, schools, and houses often present in the group portraits, and in many cases there are dogs, chickens, cats, and horses. Sometimes the individual poses with a possession such as a bicycle or musical instrument. One image is of a train accident with a large group of bystanders. Often numbers are stamped or written on the plate. The library staff has assigned unique numbers to each image and plate. There are multiple images of Hugh Mangum and the Mangum and Carden families; see the glass plate negative notes below for more details. The last dated print in the collection is a mounted print of Mangum's body in an open casket, 1922.
Mangum photographs are distinctive for the level of comfort exhibited by his subjects in front of the camera. This ease in front of the camera is readily noted due to the large quantity of "penny picture camera" negatives in the collection that contain multiple images of numerous subjects. Often the first picture of a subject appears rather stiff and formal as in traditional nineteenth century photographs. In the second and subsequent pictures, the subject often visibly relaxes, assumes different poses, uses props, removes or adds a hat, and may smile broadly at the camera. This progressive transition in poses from formal to very informal is a hallmark of the Mangum collection. The collection may be of particular interest to researchers studying late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century fashion trends.
The glass plate negatives are closed to use, but researchers may use online digitized images which represent the entirety of the collection of negatives. In addition, the collection also makes available for research use original contact prints, contact sheets, one panoramic print, and print reproductions created for exhibition and other purposes.
Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.
- Biographical / Historical:
Hugh Leonard Mangum was born on June 3, 1877 in downtown Durham, N.C., the son of Presley J. Mangum, an early postmaster of Durham and furniture maker, and Sally Mangum. In 1891, the Mangums bought the McCown house at West Point, then a rural community centering on a water mill on the Eno River, and used the home as a summer residence. In 1893, when Hugh Mangum was 16 years old, the Mangum family moved out to the Eno River community permanently. By the time he was 16, Hugh Mangum had taught himself photography. He was also an adept painter in oils and watercolor and could play the mandolin, accordion, and piano. Mangum studied art at Salem College in Winston-Salem, N.C. and studied hypnotism on his own.
From this time on, Mangum led a rambling life throughout the cities and rural areas of the Southeast, photographing blacks and whites, children at play, workers in the field, and scenes around his home by the Eno River. He traveled by train, sometimes on a manually-propelled handcar, on these picture-taking trips, returning often to his family's Durham, N.C. home on the Eno. Through the course of his travels Mangum set up many temporary studios as well as three permanent ones located in the Virginia communities of Roanoke, Pulaski, and East Radford. Ordinary people would walk in wherever Mangum set up his studios and have their pictures made. Mangum also maintained a darkroom at his family's home on the Eno in a packhouse building which has been restored and converted into the Hugh Mangum Museum of Photography. Mangum printed many of his negatives in the packhouse darkroom having exposed the negatives elsewhere, usually on location in his permanent of temporary studios. Mangum used Black Meadow Branch, a small tributary of the Eno, as a water source for chemical mixing and for washing his prints.
Mangum's family included his father, Presley and mother, Sally, and three sisters, one of whom was named Lula. Hugh married Annie Carden of East Radford in 1906 and they had a daughter. On March 12, 1922, at the age of 44, he died in Roanoke, Virginia during an influenza epidemic. One mounted print in the collection is of Mangum in an open casket.
Mangum's original darkroom, a tobacco pack house on the Mangum farm at West Point on the Eno, was saved and restored by The Friends of West Point and opened in 1986 as The Hugh Mangum Museum of Photography. In addition to his darkroom, the museum contains Hugh Mangum's traveling trunk, a selection of vintage prints, prints made from Mangum original negatives in the 1980s by photographer David Page, and period photography equipment.
- Acquisition Information:
- The Hugh Mangum photographs were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library as a gift in 1986, 2006, and 2012-2015.
- Processing information:
Processed by Karen Glynn and Peter Hymas, May 2006.
Encoded by Aaron Thornburg, May 2009; Kenneth Dasher, July 2009. Updated by Paula Jeannet, October 2011.
Exhibit prints added to collection by Joanne Fairhurst, February 2013.
New addition processed by Conservation staff and Paula Jeannet, March 2017.
Accessions represented in this collection guide: 1987-0137, 2006-0044, 2006-0123, 2012-0057, 2013-0103, 2014-0079, and 2015-0191.
Arranged in the following series: Glass Plate Negatives, Prints, Artifacts, and Exhibit Prints. The glass plate negatives are arranged in size order. Number ranges for each size are not always inclusive.
- Physical Location:
- For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
- Rules or Conventions:
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Related Material:
- Presley Jackson Mangum Family Papers (contains a photograph taken by Mangum - see Rubenstein card catalog (digitized online) for details) — Rubenstein Library
- Michael Francis Blake Photographs, 1912-1934 (African American photographer from Charleston, S.C.; houses many portrait images of African Americans) — David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.
African Americans -- Portraits
African Americans -- Southern States -- Pictorial works.
Commercial portraiture -- History -- 19th century
Commercial portraiture -- History -- 20th century
Photographers -- North Carolina
Photographers -- Virginia
Photography -- North Carolina
Portrait photographers -- North Carolina
Portrait photographers -- Virginia
Gelatin silver prints
Glass plate negatives
Archive of Documentary Arts (Duke University)
Mangum family (N.C.)
Carden family (Va.)
Mangum, Hugh, 1877-1922
Durham (N.C.) -- Pictorial works
Durham (N.C.) -- Social life and customs
North Carolina -- Photographs
North Carolina -- Social life and customs
Radford (Va.) -- Pictorial works
Virginia -- Social life and customs
Virginia -- Photographs
Using These Materials
Original glass plate negatives are closed to patron use. Print and digital copies are available.
Collection may contain materials to which the Acknowledgment of Legal Responsibilities and Privacy Rights form applies. Patrons must sign this form before using this collection.
All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. Consequently, there may be a 24-hour delay in obtaining these materials.
Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.
- USE & PERMISSIONS:
Materials in this collection are in the public domain.
- BEFORE YOU VISIT:
- Register online to request material for use in our reading room and track the status of your requests. Requests for material must be made 2 full business days in advance of your visit. Most of our collections are stored at the Library Service Center, our off-site repository.
- PREFERRED CITATION:
[Identification of item], Hugh Mangum photographs, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.