Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Guide to the E. F. Joseph Photograph Collection
MS 126  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (225.45 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Access Restrictions
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Joseph (E. F.) photograph collection
    Dates: 1915-1964
    Collection number: MS 126
    Creator: Joseph, E. F. (Emmanuel Francis), 1900-1979.
    Collection Size: 22.5 linear feet (28 boxes)
    Repository: African American Museum & Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)
    Oakland, CA 94612
    Abstract: Photographer Emmanuel Francis (E. F.) Joseph (1900-1979) was born on November 8, 1900 in St. Lucia, West Indies. He was the first professional African American photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area operating a commercial and studio photography business in his home initially at 1303 Adeline St. and then at 384 50th St. in Oakland. The E.F. Joseph photograph collection includes 2487 photographs from Joseph’s work as a portrait and commercial photographer. The collection is organized into four series: Portraits, Commercial photography, Assorted photographs, and Letter and customer card.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English

    Access

    No access restrictions. Collection is open to the public.

    Access Restrictions

    Materials are for use in-library only, non-circulating.

    Publication Rights

    Permission to publish from the E. F. Joseph Photograph Collection must be obtained from the African American Museum & Library at Oakland.

    Preferred Citation

    Joseph (E. F.) photograph collection, MS 126, African American Museum & Library at Oakland, Oakland Public Library. Oakland, California.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Sean Heyliger, 03/20/2014.

    Biography / Administrative History

    Photographer Emmanuel Francis (E. F.) Joseph (1900-1979) was born on November 8, 1900 in St. Lucia, West Indies. After graduating from the American School of Photography of Illinois, he moved to Oakland, California in 1924 where he served as an apprentice in a photography studio. He was the first professional African American photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area operating a commercial and studio photography business in his home initially at 1303 Adeline St. and then at 384 50th St. in Oakland.
    Beginning the 1930s, Joseph worked as a photojournalist for a number of Bay Area newspapers including the California Voice, San Francisco Examiner, Oakland Post, and the Pittsburgh Courier. In addition to his work studio and newspaper work, Joseph also maintained a thriving commercial photography business photographing furniture, interior decor, funeral homes, restaurants, and industrial products for retail catalogs and newspaper advertisements, and he was the official photographer for many East Bay lodges, churches, schools, clubs, and athletic teams. During World War II, he also served as a photographer for the United States Office of War Information taking many of the iconic “Rosie the Riveters” photographs at the Kaiser Shipyards.
    After the war, Joseph continued working as a studio and newspaper photographer until his retirement in the early 1970s. He was a lifetime member of the Professional Photographers of America and active in the local branch of the N.A.A.C.P. and the William J. Anderson Lodge #57 F. & A.M. He was married to Alyce Joseph, who often assisted with the photography business, until her death in 1963. In 1968, he married Lucy Lartique to whom he was married until his death on September 27, 1979.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The E.F. Joseph photograph collection includes 2487 photographs from Joseph’s work as a portrait and commercial photographer. The collection is organized into four series: Portraits, Commercial photography, Assorted photographs, and Letter and customer card. The portrait series consists of 621 group and studio of portraits taken by Joseph of subjects in his Oakland studio beginning in the late 1920s through the early 1940s. The series is divided into studio portraits of men, women, boys, girls, infants, couples, and families and group photographs of church choirs, clubs, masonic organizations, schools, athletic teams, and weddings.
    The commercial photography series is arranged alphabetically by subject and includes photographs of furniture, restaurants, department stores, automobile dealerships, flower shops, funeral homes and caskets, cabinetry, and industrial lighting later used for retail catalogs and advertisements. The bulk of the photographs are of furniture and consists of images of sofas, armchairs beds, desks, living room sets, and vanities for BP John, Metropolitan, Montgomery Ward, and Langsam furniture companies in the 1930s-1950s. Other commercial photography includes interior and exterior photographs of Slim Jenkins’ supermarket, nightclub, and restaurant, Don Lee Oldsmobile, Fruitvale Canning Company, and Mayflower Doughnut Shop.
    Assorted photographs include photographs of the funeral of Rev. G.C. Coleman and an unidentified woman, family photographs of the Collier / Taylor, Frederick Madison Roberts, and Hall families, and the aftermath of a 1920s automobile accident. The manuscript series includes a letter written by Mrs. Harold Greer to E.F. and Alyce Joseph requesting additional photographs of her kitchen, an E.F. Joseph customer card offering a free portrait compliments of Superior Beauty Parlor, and assorted envelopes, inventories, and a ribbon related to E.F. Joseph’s commercial photographs for BP John Furniture Company.

    Arrangement

    Series I. Portraits Series II. Commercial photography Series III. Assorted photographs Series IV. Letter and card

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    African Americans--California--Oakland--History--Pictorial works.
    African American photographers.
    Furniture--1930-1940.
    Furniture--History--20th century--Pictorial works.
    Oakland (Calif.)--History--Pictorial works.
    Photography--California--San Francisco Bay Area.
    Portrait photography--California.
    Portraits--1920-1940.