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Pearl Bowser Audiovisual Collection

Names:
Andrade-Watkins, Claire  Search this
Bambara, Toni Cade  Search this
Dash, Julie  Search this
Gerima, Haile  Search this
Greaves, William, 1953-2005  Search this
Gunn, Bill, 1934-1989  Search this
Jafa, Arthur  Search this
Jones, Robert Earl, 1904-2006  Search this
Massiah, Louis  Search this
Micheaux, Oscar, 1884-1951  Search this
Moses, Ethel  Search this
Robeson, Paul, 1898-1976  Search this
Sanchez, Sonia, 1934- (poet, reader)  Search this
Snead, James A., 1953-1989  Search this
Spence, Louise, 1945-  Search this
Tucker, Lorenzo  Search this
Donor:
Bowser, Pearl, 1931-  Search this
Extent:
approximately 100 Motion picture films
213 Sound cassettes (7 boxes)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Motion picture films
Sound cassettes
Sound cassette
Oral histories (document genres)
16mm motion picture film
Vhs (videotape format)
Place:
England
Harlem (New York, N.Y.)
Roanoke (Va.)
Memphis (Tenn.)
Date:
bulk 1920-2001
Biographical / Historical:
Pearl Bowser is a filmmaker, producer, author, lecturer, and highly acclaimed scholar of African American film who is recognized as an authority on the works of Oscar Micheaux, a noted writer, director, and producer of race films from 1919 to 1948.

Born Pearl Johnson on June 25, 1931, in Sugar Hill, Harlem, New York, she was named after her mother (also Pearl Johnson), a domestic worker who had been raised in a Catholic nunnery. On occasional Saturdays, the younger Pearl would accompany her mother to work in apartments in lower Manhattan, where she would assist her by folding handkerchiefs for a small allowance. After moving to a lower part of Harlem when she was about four years old, she met Harlem entrepreneur "Bumpy" Johnson, for whom she and other children in the neighborhood did odd jobs such as counting coins or attending to his ice-cream stand. Johnson, who would sometimes give the children joy rides in his Cadillac, occasionally allowed Pearl and the other children to borrow books from his extensive library, provided that they read them and submitted to a quiz.

As a child, Bowser had several racist encounters. For example, one of her white kindergarten teachers at her elementary school wore gloves in the classroom as to not touch Black pupils. She was also occasionally teased for having a gap between her teeth but felt insulated from sustained bullying because she had several older brothers who sometimes protected her. On a separate occasion, when she was about nine years old, her mother sent her on a trip from New York to the South to visit relatives. Although her mother had purchased tickets for her to be in a Pullman car, when she changed trains in Washington, DC., she was forced to ride in the car behind the engine, which left her covered in soot.

An avid reader, Pearl excelled in elementary and high school and received a scholarship to attend Brooklyn College, where she majored in biology. She supplemented her income by recording the numbers in one of Bumpy Johnson's shops. Disappointed with the quality of the education she was receiving, Bowser withdrew from Brooklyn College, eventually landing a job at CBS where she worked on a team that analyzed Nielsen ratings.

In 1955, Pearl married fellow New Yorker LeRoy Bowser. By the mid-1960s, although Pearl and LeRoy Bowser had separate interests, they both were working simultaneously in the civil rights movement. While LeRoy was active in Brooklyn CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) and went to the South in the summer to teach for what was the beginning of HeadStart, Pearl, along with other production activists, took to the streets documenting African American culture and issues—working to bring these films to schools. Additionally, Bowser wanted to write a cookbook to earn funds for Brooklyn's CORE organization. She was approached by David Davis, the editor of Tuesday Magazine. Tuesday had distribution in the Herald Tribune across the country as a Sunday supplement. As the urban-world magazine exploded in Black communities, "Joan" Bowser's two-page pictorials on Southern cooking with a set of recipes became very popular in the five years she wrote them. Bowser retained copyrights to the articles, and easily completed her cookbook a short time later.

Bowser's colleague at ABC, Charles Hobson, found a used book written by Peter Noble about Black films and Oscar Micheaux. The volume was slim and contained what little information contained in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) files. Hobson and his colleagues wanted to write a book about the topic, and they assigned Bowser to begin the research. As part of the project, Bowser went to California to interview actors who may have been in early Black films or may have worked with Micheaux. What she learned began her intensive scholarship into Micheaux and his fellow filmmakers.

In 1971, she organized her first film festival, the Black Film History Series. In 1979, she organized the nation's first American women's film festival in New York City. She also presented a major retrospective, Independent Black American Cinema 1920-1980, which toured the country during 1981 and 1982. She also directed the Journey Across Three Continents film and lecture series, which toured the country from 1983-1985. Bowser also served as president of the prestigious Flaherty Film Seminar in 1987. In 1989, she, alongside Grant Munro, programmed the 35th Flaherty Film Seminar, which featured films such as Finzan, Zajota and the Boogie Spirit, Daughters of the Dust, and many more. She has also been a judge at the world-renown Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESCPACO) in Burkina Faso (formerly known as Upper Volta).

In the 1980s Bowser was awarded an independent artists grant by the Ford Foundation to travel west and collect oral histories from individuals in Oscar Micheaux's orbit, loosely following the route he would have travelled decades earlier. Stopping in cities such as Roanoke, Virginia; Memphis, Tennessee; and Jackson, Mississippi, she collected dozens of oral histories from actors, actresses etc. that knew Oscar Micheaux. Through this research she became an eminent figure in the Black independent film industry. Working as a programmer, she travelled around the United States and the world showing films by domestic and Black filmmakers within the Diaspora.

Despite her wealth of experience working as a programmer, it wasn't until the 1990s that Bowser made her directorial debut with the documentary film Midnight Ramble. Funded by American Experience, the film looks at African Americans and Hollywood movies from 1910 through the 1950s. In 2000, she, along with Louise Spence, co-authored Writing Himself into History: Oscar Micheaux, His Silent Films and His Audiences, a book about the pioneering filmmaker. Additionally, she is founder and director of Chamba Educational Film Services, a film distribution company that specialized in distributing films by African American filmmakers. In the early 1980s, she renamed her company/collection as African Diaspora Images, a collection of historical and contemporary films documenting Black film history. She subsequently joined Third World Newsreel, where she was director of their theater department.

In 2012, Pearl Bowser donated her extensive collection of books, sound cassettes, films, film memorabilia, and papers to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Sources:

1940 United States Federal Census; New York, New York, New York, population schedule, p. 61B, house number 1486, family 195, Pearl Bowser; Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012 accessed: 10 Sept 2022); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm: m-t0627-02665

Bowser, Pearl. Pearl Bowser Oral History. Interview by Tuliza Fleming and Jennifer Lyon, July 21, 2011.
Provenance:
Acquired as a donation from Pearl Bowser in 2012.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research. Access to collection materials requires an appointment.
Occupation:
Filmmakers  Search this
Actors -- Interviews  Search this
Topic:
Documentary films  Search this
Film festivals  Search this
African American actors  Search this
African American actresses  Search this
African diaspora  Search this
Race films  Search this
African American motion picture producers and directors  Search this
African American women authors  Search this
Meetings  Search this
Conferences  Search this
Lectures and lecturing  Search this
Amateur films  Search this
Motion picture soundtracks  Search this
Oral history  Search this
Radio broadcasts  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sound cassette
Oral histories (document genres)
16mm motion picture film
VHS (videotape format)
Citation:
Pearl Bowser Collection, National Museum of African American History and Culture
Identifier:
NMAAHC.A2012.79.AV
See more items in:
Pearl Bowser Audiovisual Collection
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/io3209e9c6d-3045-4a0a-941e-6519385b18d5
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-a2012-79-av

James and Ethel Lucus papers

Creator:
Lucus, Ethel Minns  Search this
Lucus, James William  Search this
Names:
Lucus, Ethel Minns  Search this
Lucus, James William  Search this
Extent:
0.53 Linear feet (3 boxes)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Photographs
Diplomas
Leaflets
Correspondence
Photographic prints
Awards
Postcards
Marriage certificates
Programs
Clippings
Pamphlets
Date:
circa 1902-1990
bulk 1919-1960
Summary:
The collection, which dates from circa 1902 to 1990 and measures .53 linear feet, documents the personal and professional lives of James William Lucus and Ethel Minns Lucus. The collection is comprised of photographs, correspondence, postcards, newspaper clippings, diplomas, awards, pamphlets, leaflets, programs, and vital statistics records.
Scope and Contents:
The collection, which dates from 1902 to 1990, documents the activities of James and Ethel Lucus. It contains material related to Mr. Lucus's education, military service, and his teaching career with the Public Schools of Chicago. Additionally, the collection documents Ethel Minns Lucus's education and her involvement in various Chicago area theatrical activities. Included in the collection are awards, certificates, correspondence, diplomas, military records, and photographic prints.
Arrangement:
The papers are organized into three series one of which has been further arranged into subseries. The contents of each series and subseries are arranged alphabetically. There are oversize materials in the Awards and Citations and Education subseries, as well as in the Photographs series. The series and subseries are arranged as follows:

Series I: Biographical

Subseries 1.1: Awards and Citations

Subseries 1.2: Education

Subseries 1.3: General Series II: Correspondence Series III: Photographs
Biographical / Historical:
James William Lucus was born in Abbeville, GA on 26 December 1895 to Jack and Hattie Dean Lucus. Despite the fact that both his father and mother worked - a railroad laborer and domestic servant, respectively --the family still struggled to maintain their simple existence. In one of his earliest recollections, Mr. Lucus describes his childhood home as, "…a one-room house of uncertain pedigree…" Yet the family persevered. In addition to her work as a domestic, his mother worked in the cotton and corn fields during planting and harvest seasons. As for his father, if local railroad work became sparse, Jack Lucus travelled to other parts of the state to find work.

Given these circumstances it is not surprising that James did not enter school until fourth grade. Shortly after he was enrolled, he was withdrawn so that he could work with his father cutting wood for railroad ties. This action was taken at the behest of the family's doctor, who felt that James needed to build his strength and bulk. A few years later, a stronger and older James William Lucus re-entered fourth grade. However, he could only attend school in the spring because he had to work the rest of the year. It was at this time that his parents separated and, since his mother's income was not sufficient to support the household, James had to step in to fill the financial void left by his father. His early education came to a temporary halt in 1911, when he graduated from eighth grade at the age of fifteen.

After graduation, James spent a year earning income as a railroad worker and cotton-picker; and to some extent he accepted these occupations as his lot in life. That all changed when family friend Charlie Jefferson suggested that he and James move to Waycross, GA to find better employment opportunities. They left in the spring of 1912 and both found jobs immediately. Buoyed by this initial success, Mr. Jefferson encouraged James to attend trade school at Tuskegee Institute.

James Lucus entered Tuskegee in 1913 and, as it was with his early education, he worked while attending school. He performed various jobs around the school during the day and took classes at night. In 1915 he earned his high school academic diploma and in 1916 he earned his applied electricity diploma.

The skills he acquired at Tuskegee Institute enabled him to serve in the U.S. Army's C.O. Company "F" 317th Engineers during World War I. In June 1918 his unit was deployed to France for nine months. Their primary mission was to dig trenches and dugouts in the battle zones. His unit returned on 31 March 1919 and Mr. Lucus was honorably discharged on18 April 1919.

Once he left the military in 1919 he moved to Chicago, IL, where he attended Lewis Institute. He earned a Bachelor of Science in 1923 and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1924. Unfortunately, his two degrees were not enough to secure an engineering job, so he decided to become a teacher. He completed his course work at the Chicago Normal School in 1925. The kid whose initial education experience was a sporadic four-year stint in a country grammar school would go on to have a 36-year teaching career with the Public Schools of Chicago.

A year after starting his employment as a teacher James Lucus married Ethel E. Minns, a dramatist. Mrs. Lucus was born in 1903. She studied theatre at the Chicago Conservatory from where she earned a diploma in 1935 and a Bachelor of Dramatic Art in 1940. Thereafter, she acted, danced, and sang her way through the Chicago arts scene. Later Mrs. Lucus established the E. M. L. Creative Theatre which presented performances in the Chicago area. The performances ranged from dramas to large scale musicals. The Theatre also offered a variety of classes for actors of all ages. Given her extensive involvement in Chicago's cultural life, she received awards and other recognition for her contributions.

James and Ethel Lucus remained married for sixty years. They had one child, Hildred, who followed in her father's footsteps, becoming a teacher with the Chicago Public Schools. Mr. Lucus died on 5 September 1986 as a result of injuries he sustained in two separated muggings. Mrs. Lucus died three years later in the early spring of 1990.
Rights:
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Please contact the archivist to make an appointment: ACMarchives@si.edu.
Topic:
African Americans -- Education  Search this
African American educators  Search this
African Americans -- Employment  Search this
African Americans -- Social life and customs  Search this
African American military personnel  Search this
African American families  Search this
African American actresses  Search this
World War, 1914-1918 -- African Americans  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs
Diplomas
Leaflets
Correspondence
Photographic prints
Awards
Postcards
Marriage certificates
Programs
Clippings
Pamphlets
Citation:
James and Ethel Lucus papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution, gift of Meridith McCurtis and Hildred Lucus McCurtis.
Identifier:
ACMA.06-023
See more items in:
James and Ethel Lucus papers
Archival Repository:
Anacostia Community Museum Archives
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/qa703dff5af-3e52-42c1-a5f4-abe8028da66b
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-acma-06-023
Online Media:

Miss Freddie [sic] Washington, No. 40 [holding cigarette, full-length view : acetate film photonegative and 3 contact prints]

Photographer:
Scurlock, Robert S. (Saunders), 1917-1994  Search this
Creator:
Defender (film manufacturer)  Search this
Names:
Washington, Fredi (Fredericka Carolyn)  Search this
Subseries Creator:
Scurlock Studio (Washington, D.C.)  Search this
Scurlock, Robert S. (Saunders), 1917-1994  Search this
Custom Craft  Search this
Scurlock, Addison N., 1883-1964  Search this
Scurlock, George H. (Hardison), 1919-2005  Search this
Extent:
4 Items
Container:
Box 47
Culture:
African Americans -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Portraits
Contact prints
Studio portraits
Photographs
Retouching
Date:
[ca. 1930-1940]
Scope and Contents:
Job Number: 30807
Informal portrait in studio, with contact print proofs. Negative edge imprint: "Defender Safety Film." Negative marked on edge, "30807 Miss Freddie Washington 25...[?] 5 x 7". One print is marked on verso: "Freddie Washington, actress / starred in movie "Imitation of Life" w/Louise Beavers"; other prints unmarked. Signed in negative, "Scurlock / Wash. D.C.", lower left.
Biographical / Historical:
This portrait session with the actress was one of Robert Scurlock's earliest major photographic projects.
General:
Freezer box number 49. Prints in Box 81. Originally in Box A.
Subseries Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.

Gloves must be worn when handling unprotected photographs and negatives. Special arrangements required to view negatives due to cold storage. Using negatives requires a three hour waiting period. Contact the Archives Center at 202-633-3270.
Subseries Rights:
When the Museum purchased the collection from the Estate of Robert S. Scurlock, it obtained all rights, including copyright. The earliest photographs in the collection are in the public domain because their term of copyright has expired. The Archives Center will control copyright and the use of the collection for reproduction purposes, which will be handled in accordance with its standard reproduction policy guidelines. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Cigarettes  Search this
African American actresses  Search this
Genre/Form:
Portraits -- African American women
Contact prints -- 1950-2000
Studio portraits
Photographs -- 1940-1950 -- Black-and-white negatives -- Acetate film
Retouching -- Pencil
Subseries Citation:
Scurlock Studio Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History. Smithsonian Institution
See more items in:
Scurlock Studio Records, Subseries 4.1: Black-and-White Silver Gelatin Negatives
Scurlock Studio Records, Subseries 4.1: Black-and-White Silver Gelatin Negatives / 4.1: Black-and-White Silver Gelatin negatives
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8f5456e8a-a3b3-4ebb-9322-87489a4e8c10
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0618-s04-01-ref1345

Ethel Waters

Artist:
Beauford Delaney, 1901 - 1979  Search this
Sitter:
Ethel Waters, 31 Oct 1896 - 1 Sep 1977  Search this
Medium:
Pastel on paper
Dimensions:
Sheet: 65 x 49.6 cm (25 9/16 x 19 1/2")
Frame: 90.5 × 75 cm (35 5/8 × 29 1/2")
Type:
Drawing
Date:
1940
Topic:
Costume\Jewelry\Earring  Search this
Ethel Waters: Female  Search this
Ethel Waters: Literature\Writer  Search this
Ethel Waters: Performing Arts\Performer\Actor  Search this
Ethel Waters: Performing Arts\Performer\Actor\Theater  Search this
Ethel Waters: Performing Arts\Performer\Actor\Movie  Search this
Ethel Waters: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Singer\Jazz  Search this
Ethel Waters: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Singer\Blues  Search this
Portrait  Search this
Credit Line:
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; purchase partially supported through the generosity of the Abraham and Virginia Weiss Charitable Trust, Amy and Marc Meadows, in honor of Wendy Wick Reaves; and Jewell Robinson
Object number:
NPG.2011.7
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
Copyright:
© Estate of Beauford Delaney by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire, Court Appointed Administrator; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY
See more items in:
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Data Source:
National Portrait Gallery
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/sm484ba532a-3339-4eab-8373-dcbe5695a6d7
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:npg_NPG.2011.7

Miss Freddie Washington, No. 39 [holding cigarette, close-up half-length view : acetate film photonegative and 1 contact print]

Photographer:
Scurlock, Robert S. (Saunders), 1917-1994  Search this
Creator:
Defender (film manufacturer)  Search this
Names:
Washington, Fredi (Fredericka Carolyn)  Search this
Subseries Creator:
Custom Craft  Search this
Scurlock Studio (Washington, D.C.)  Search this
Scurlock, Addison N., 1883-1964  Search this
Scurlock, George H. (Hardison), 1919-2005  Search this
Scurlock, Robert S. (Saunders), 1917-1994  Search this
Extent:
2 Items
Type:
Archival materials
Contact prints
Studio portraits
Photographs
Date:
[ca. 1930-1940.]
Scope and Contents:
Informal portrait in studio, with contact print proof; variant on 618.224486. Negative edge imprint: "Defender Safety Film." Negative marked on edge, "30807 Miss Freddie Washington 25...[?] 5 x 7". Print is marked on verso: "Freddie Washington, actress / starred in movie "Imitation of Life" w/Louise Beavers". Signed in negative, "Scurlock / Wash. D.C.", lower left.
Biographical / Historical:
This portrait session with the actress was one of Robert Scurlock's earliest major photographic projects.
General:
Print in Box 81. Originally in Box A.
Subseries Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.

Series 8: Business Records, Subseries 8.1: Studio Session Registers are restricted. Digital copies available for research. See repository for details.

Gloves must be worn when handling unprotected photographs and negatives. Special arrangements required to view negatives due to cold storage. Using negatives requires a three hour waiting period. Contact the Archives Center at 202-633-3270.
Subseries Rights:
When the Museum purchased the collection from the Estate of Robert S. Scurlock, it obtained all rights, including copyright. The earliest photographs in the collection are in the public domain because their term of copyright has expired. The Archives Center will control copyright and the use of the collection for reproduction purposes, which will be handled in accordance with its standard reproduction policy guidelines. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
African American actresses  Search this
Genre/Form:
Contact prints -- 1950-2000
Studio portraits
Photographs -- 1940-1950 -- Black-and-white negatives -- Acetate film
Subseries Citation:
Scurlock Studio Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History. Smithsonian Institution
See more items in:
Scurlock Studio Records, Subseries 4.5: Black and white negatives in cold storage arranged by job number
Scurlock Studio Records, Subseries 4.5: Black and white negatives in cold storage arranged by job number / Scurlock client negatives: W - Wynter / Washington, Freddie
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep803a7128d-acf8-43db-bb82-df038f825a32
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0618-s04-05-ref82679

African American actresses : the struggle for visibility, 1900-1960 / Charlene Regester

Author:
Regester, Charlene B. 1956-  Search this
Physical description:
xi, 405 pages, 14 pages of plates : illustrations ; 23 cm
Type:
Biography
Place:
United States
Date:
2010
©2010
Topic:
Racism in motion pictures  Search this
African American women  Search this
African American women in motion pictures  Search this
African American motion picture actors and actresses  Search this
Actors  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_1031090

Josephine Baker's cinematic prism Terri Simone Francis

Author:
Francis, Terri Simone  Search this
Physical description:
1 online resource (xi, 199 pages) illustrations
Type:
Electronic resources
Electronic books
Criticism, interpretation, etc
Place:
France
Date:
2021
Topic:
African American women dancers  Search this
African American motion picture actors and actresses  Search this
African Americans in motion pictures  Search this
African American entertainers  Search this
PERFORMING ARTS--Film & Video--General  Search this
Call number:
GV1785.B3 F73 2021 (Internet)
Restrictions & Rights:
1-user
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_1153086

The Hattie McDaniel monument : a dying wish is honored

Author:
Leslie, Marcia L  Search this
Smithsonian Libraries African Art Index Project DSI  Search this
Subject:
McDaniel, Hattie 1895-1952  Search this
Type:
Articles
Date:
2000
Topic:
African American actresses  Search this
Call number:
E185.5 .A512
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_680945

Encyclopedia of African American actresses in film and television / Bob McCann

Author:
McCann, Bob 1948-2009  Search this
Physical description:
vii, 453 p. : ill. ; 26 cm
Type:
Biography
Encyclopedias
Date:
2010
C2010
Topic:
African American actresses  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_968796

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