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[Fr. Divine (?) group photograph : acetate film photonegative.]

Scurlock, Addison N. 1883-1964
Divine Father, or Rev. ca. 1882-1965 (George Baker)
Physical description:
Silver gelatin on cellulose acetate film sheet, 8" x 10"
1 item
African Americans
Washington (D.C.)
From negative Box D.
African-American religious leader, founder of the Peace Mission movement, b. probably near Savannah, Ga. and named George Baker. After preaching in the South, he moved to Harlem (1915) in New York City, became one of the neighborhood's biggest landlords, acquired wealth through other businesses, including restaurants and grocery stores, and began styling himself Major M. J. Divine, later Father Divine. Although once dismissed as a cult leader, he built the largest religious movement in northern ghettos during the Great Depression. His role as an early civil rights activist-he led anti-lynching campaigns, instituted economic cooperatives, and organized political action against racial discrimination-has come to be more appreciated. The movement spread beyond New York City to other places in the United States and abroad, sometimes after the group sent whites to purchase property in segregated areas. During the 1940s, his health and influence declined, but his movement symbolized the progressive spirit in the black church and helped define the church's active role in the civil rights movement. See Sara Harris, Father Divine (rev. ed. 1971); Kenneth E. Burnham, God Comes to America (1979); Robert Weisbrot, Father Divine (1984); Jill Watts, God, Harlem U.S.A. (1992). The Columbia Encyclopedia, Fifth Edition Copyright ©1994, 1995 Columbia University Press.
Addison Scurlock probably photographed Father Divine in 1932, according to research by Professor Leonard Primiano, Cabrini College (e-mail Aug. 6, 2010).
Ink on negative edge: "25695 [R.W. Divine ?] 35 prints". No manufacturer's mark on film edge.
Cite as:
Scurlock Studio Records, ca. 1905-1994, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Portraits, Group--African Americans
Cults and nonconventional religious groups
African American clergy
Local number:
Freezer box 01
25695 (Scurlock No.)
Scan required
See more items in:
Black-and-white film negatives (Series 4), Scurlock Studio Records 1905-1994
Data Source:
Archives Center - NMAH

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