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Friday, April 23, 2010

Douglass Dwellings: Collection Spotlight

Anacostia Community Museum Archives recently acquired two collections relating to the Frederick Douglass housing projects: Henry Bazemore Collection of Frederick Douglass Dwellings Photographs and the Frederick Douglass Dwellings Collection. The Douglass Dwellings were built in Southeast Washington, D.C., as World War II-era temporary housing for African American workers. Celebrated African American architect Hilyard R. Robinson designed the complex, and renowned photographer Gordon Parks documented the community for the Farm Security Administration.

Both collections contain photographs of social activities in the community sponsored by the local recreation center. Among the charming activities for the children were "Tom Thumb Weddings," where children played the roles of bride, groom, minister, wedding party, and guest. Other activities documented in the collections are dance recitals, sporting events, hobby shows, and the annual soap box derby. The images challenge perceptions of life in public housing during the 1940s by illustrating the positive aspects of life in the projects.

Pictured: Tom Thumb wedding at the Frederick Douglass Recreation Center, Frederick Douglass Dwellings Collection, gift of members of the Southeast Voices.
Jennifer Morris, Archivist, Anacostia Community Museum

1 comment:

  1. My cousins and I used to play wedding on the beach in summertime, but we never dressed up like that!

    We are lucky to have these photographs as a record of a bygone time, and, like you wrote, a record of the positive aspects of life in a challenging time.

    Thanks for sharing!