O'Sullivan Road

04.28.12 Hugh Mangum: Keep All You Wish

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Keep All You Wish: The Photographs of Hugh Mangum
April 30–October 20
Lyndhurst Gallery, Center for Documentary Studies
1317 W. Pettigrew St.
Durham, North Carolina

Keep All You Wish: The Photographs of Hugh Mangum features a selection of turn-of-the-twentieth-century portraits from the Hugh Mangum Collection, preserved within Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Born and raised in Durham, North Carolina, Mangum began establishing studios and working as an itinerant photographer in the early 1890s, traveling by rail through North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. Rare for his time, Mangum attracted and cultivated a clientele that drew heavily from both the African American and white communities, especially in his hometown. In Mangum’s lifetime he likely exposed thousands of glass plate negatives; sadly most of those were destroyed through benign neglect after his death or are now lost, as are any records of the names and dates associated with the images.

In 1922, six weeks before his death at age forty-four, Mangum wrote a letter to his sister Lula signed, “Give my love to all and keep all you wish, Your Brother Hugh.” It’s possible he anticipated death, or maybe the salutation is simply an indicator of his kind spirit. Read as an expression of his pictures, the phrase “keep all you wish” suggests Mangum’s generosity in creating an atmosphere—respectful and often playful—in which the many hundreds of men, women, and children who posed for him were able to genuinely reveal themselves. A century later, Mangum’s portraits allow us to gaze into the faces of early-twentieth-centuryDurham and the American South.

—SARAH STACKE, curator


Written by Sarah Stacke

April 28, 2012 at 12:01 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Interesting subject. I’m really looking forward to the show!


    April 28, 2012 at 5:33 pm

  2. It will be a highlight of my trip to Durham to see your exhibit, Sarah. I am so looking forward to it. Hugh Mangum is such an integral part of Durham’s history. Your study of his work is fascinating.

    Mary Stacke

    May 10, 2012 at 2:05 am

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