Copies of: biographical notes on Olmstead, his letters, and reference letters from Will Connell, Philip Evergood, Roy Stryker, and others, are in the collection control file. The originals are in the Olmstead file in the Julius Rosenwald Fund Papers, Box 439, folder 4, Fisk University.
Olmstead was an African-American photographer who worked in the Hill District ghetto area of Pittsburgh, Pa. in the early 1940s. He was born in Steubenville, Ohio, in March 1914 (he did not include the day in his Rosenwald fellowship application). He was self-taught as a photographer, but later, with the support of Roy Stryker, attended the Art Center School to study photography. He received a Rosenwald fellowship in 1946. Olmstead was inspired by Life Magazine photojournalist Gordon Parks. He photographed until the 1960s while working for the Department of Water and Power in Los Angeles. He died August 17, 1985, following a long illness.
178 film photonegatives by Olmstead, chiefly of the Hill District, Pittsburgh. Emphasis on African-American life with scenes of everyday events, children at play, house interiors and exteriors, a Labor Day parade by striking members of the Westinghouse UERMWA union, a church, and some images apparently taken in Los Angeles, all circa 1941 to 1945. 2010 addendum: four prints made from negatives in the collection. Some negatives are blue because the gelatin anti-curl layer on the base side of the negative contains an anti-halation dye [which] decolorizes during processing but will reappear in the acidic environment of aged acetate negatives. The blue is typical of Agfa/Ansco negatives, while a pink discoloration is typically seen on Kodak negatives. (From Gawain Weaver, conservator, in post on PhotoHistory@yahoogroups.com listserv, Jan. 16, 2007.
G. Dwoyid Olmstead Photonegatives, ca. 1941-1949, Archives Center, National Museum of American History. Gift of Sydney Olmstead Williams
Labor and laboring classes
Strikes and lockouts
African American photographers
1988.3086 (NMAH Acc.)
2010.3078 (NMAH Acc.)
Unrestricted research use on site. Researchers must handle negatives with gloves provided by the staff