The collection contains one hundred seventy eight (178) film photonegatives by G. Dwoyid Olmstead in 4 x 5 in. sheet and cut film and 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 in. (#120) rollfilm sizes; the rollfilm negatives are cut apart into either individual frames or double image strips. Most of the photographs were taken in the early 1940s in the Hill District, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and include pictures of the black citizens of the area in scenes of everyday life, children at play, interiors and exteriors of houses, etc. Olmstead told his friends that 'he felt it was important to capture on camera the living conditions of the residents there. There are also pictures of a Labor Day parade by striking members of the Westinghouse U.E.R.M.W.A. union, of the AFL/CIO) and related subjects. Marks on the original envelopes seem to indicate that some pictures in the group were taken in Los Angeles (AL.A.@). Many of the negatives are stained blue, and are identified as "blue" on the Container List. All the negatives seem to be on safety film, with "safety" imprints on the sheet film negatives.
The original negatives are supplemented with a set of "non-vintage" enlargements and contact prints, made primarily by the Smithsonian Office of Printing and Photographic Services.
This collection is arranged by subject.
Biographical / Historical:
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. 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.
This collection was donated by Sydney Olmstead Williams, December 5, 1986.
This collection is open for research use.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.