Teenie Harris Photographs: Elections

Teenie Harris Photographs: Elections

MonoVisions Black & White Photo Contest 2024

Charles “Teenie” Harris’s work brought him into frequent contact with the political process. As a photographer for the Pittsburgh Courier, Harris shot candidates and rallies, activists and polling places. He documented those organizing around the Voting Rights Act, which went into effect August 6, 1965, prohibiting racial discrimination in the nation’s voting process.

Opening August 13, Teenie Harris Photographs: Elections brings together three eminent guest curators to reflect upon Harris’s work covering elections, looking toward the presidential elections this fall. They include Harold Hayes, former KDKA news reporter; Michael Keaton, actor and political activist; and Pittsburgh City Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle, whose District 6 includes Downtown Pittsburgh, the Hill District, and parts of Oakland and the North Side.

“I’m honored to be part of the guest curator team for the Teenie Harris Photographs: Elections. As a teenager, I remember Teenie taking pictures for the Courier, covering the Frogs Club social events, and how he’d take that one shot and, with a flair, pop out that used flashbulb and throw it in his pocket. By the time I got to KDKA, Teenie had retired, but still shot events on occasion. I was always in awe of his skill. In reviewing part of his vast collection, I’m even more of a fan.”
—Harold Hayes, former KDKA News anchor

“I grew up and got my start in Pittsburgh during a time when Teenie Harris was active, and he is one of my favorite photographers. What I find most impressive is the way he worked as an insider, documenting the communities around him, particularly the political struggles of African Americans during the ‘60s and ‘70s. Voting rights gains made during this time are under threat across the country, so I jumped at the opportunity to look at this critical issue through Teenie’s lens.”
—Michael Keaton, actor and activist

“I enjoy viewing Teenie Harris’s photos because they provide me with a lens into how great our community once was. They inspire me, as a City Councilman, to ensure that greatness is restored. On a more personal note, I have two of Teenie’s photos that he signed and gave to my grandfather hanging on the wall in my office. They serve as a constant reminder of the importance of my work.”
—R. Daniel Lavelle, Pittsburgh City Councilman

Charles “Teenie” Harris (1908–1998) photographed Pittsburgh’s African American community from ca. 1935 to ca. 1975. His archive of more than 70,000 images is one of the most detailed and intimate records of the black urban experience known today. Purchased by Carnegie Museum of Art in 2001, the Teenie Harris Archive was established to preserve Harris’s important photographic work for future generations. For more information, visit teenie.cmoa.org. You can also read essays inspired by the social, cultural, and political content of Harris’s photographs at blog.cmoa.org.

Teenie Harris
Photographs: Elections
August 13, 2016 – December 5, 2016

Carnegie Museum of Art
4400 Forbes Ave Pittsburgh, PA 15213


© Charles “Teenie” Harris, President John F. Kennedy speaking from podium, with Senator Joseph S. Clark and Pennsylvania Governor David L. Lawrence seated behind him, Monessen, Pennsylvania, October 1962, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund


© Charles “Teenie” Harris; Rosamond Barnum handing Mrs. Reeble Marshall bag of produce, with men and women, including James McCoy and Mr. Michaels, standing at produce truck outside of Freedom House, February 1967; black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh


© Charles “Teenie” Harris, “Vice President Richard Nixon and Pat Nixon greeting crowd from car, including Harold Irwin, Centre Avenue, Hill District,” October 1960, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund


© Charles “Teenie” Harris, President Kennedy in Pittsburgh: President Kennedy addressing crowd in University of Pittsburgh field house with Kennedy portrait and banner for Dilworth for Governor in background, October 1962, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund


© Charles “Teenie” Harris, Republican campaign billboard, possibly on Morgan Street, Hill District, October 1949, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund


© Charles “Teenie” Harris, Democratic City Council candidate Dozia Frazier, and his daughters Lydia Frazier and Dozita Frazier holding sign reading “My name is Dozita Frazier, Vote for my Daddy, 35-D City Council,” outside polling place at Madison School, May 1967, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund


© Charles “Teenie” Harris, Two men, including police officer Sidney Wilson on right, assisting centenarian Duke Finch out of polling place, c. 1945-1950, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund


© Charles “Teenie” Harris, K. Leroy Irvis standing in voting booth for 15th District of Fifth Ward, Pittsburgh, November 1962, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family fund


© Charles “Teenie” Harris, Orson Welles holding cigar and Senator Harry Truman wearing eyeglasses, standing in front of Centre Avenue police station, with sign in background inscribed “Senator Truman the Hill District, Welcomes You,” Hill District, c. 1944, black and white: Agfa Safety Film, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund

MonoVisions Black & White Photo Contest 2024