Hugh Mangum Photographs (c. 1890-1922)

“Hugh Mangum, an itinerant photographer from a prominent Durham, North Carolina, family, traveled a rail circuit through North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. Along this route he took portraits of a remarkable variety of people, rendering a rich and diverse pictorial history of the region at the turn of the 20th century. At the beginning of his photographic career in the early 1890s, Mangum maintained a darkroom in a tobacco pack house on the Mangum farm at West Point on the Eno River in Durham. Over the years, he moved to Virginia and partnered with colleagues to operate photography studios in Roanoke, Pulaski, and East Radford, Virginia.”
– from Duke University’s Digital Collections’ “Hugh Mangum Photographs (c. 1890-1920)”
This absolutely astonishing collection has brought my workday to a screeching halt. This remarkable compendium is a fine example of the power of the internet used to its greatest potential. Here delicate and damaged photographs are liberated from musty archives and available for amateur perusal and wonder. I am stunned by how joyful and fun these photos are. Mangum seems to have a unique ability to capture the life in the eyes of his subjects missing in so many photographs of his age. It is a pleasure to see average late Victorian Americans in their earnest splendor. True, novelty-sized feathered hats abound on some of the female subjects and this epoch was the late Golden Age of Ludicrous Mustaches however the timeless humanity of his subjects shine through on every image.
I want to share every single image from this archive with you! Samples submitted for your pleasure: (details and enlargements are mine):


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