In 2010, Camden resident Barbara Brown was strolling through a yard sale when she spied something she could not pass up. What she discovered was a collection of Brownie photos and assorted older photographs from about the 1910s through the 1940s featuring an African-American family. In it were old formal portraits, school photos from Mather Academy, and candid shots of families posing in front yards and living rooms, on bicycles and in front of prized rose bushes. They are loving and lovely photographs of an active family as they journeyed through the generations -- 98 images in all. She bought the collection and a few weeks later donated it to the Camden Archives and Museum, thus preserving the images for the future.
As we worked on the Campbell Street Story exhibit, some of the photographs were identified by the Street Story committee and they soon decided the collection was from the Brevard family of Camden. Our “poster girl” for the exhibit turned out to be Mattie Brevard, a Mather Academy day student. Other familiar faces were identified by the committee. This valuable collection illustrates African-American life in Camden through the years.
The Camden Archives and Museum has 14,720 photographic images in its collection. Only a fraction of this number document the African-American community. In order to build the African-American component of the Archives and Museum collection, we are holding two “photo scan” days at the Archives on Thursday, April 28 and Friday, April 29 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. We invite the African-American community to bring their cherished photos to the Archives at 1314 Broad St., and allow the staff to scan the images for preservation in our collection. Scan Days will be held in the research room of the Archives. We’ll ask you to identify any of the people or places in the photo which you might know. Your photos will be handed right back to you within a few minutes.
These images will be used to tell the story of the African-American community as we continue to document its history. Stop by and help us gather history! For information call 803-425-6050.