HARLESTON, EDWIN AUGUSTUS, 1882-1931
Edwin A. Harleston and Edwina Harleston Whitlock family papers,1821-2006

Emory University

Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322

404-727-6887

rose.library@emory.edu

Permanent link: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/8zd40


Descriptive Summary

Creator: Harleston, Edwin Augustus, 1882-1931
Title: Edwin A. Harleston and Edwina Harleston Whitlock family papers,1821-2006
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 1161
Extent: 12 linear ft. (24 boxes), 2 oversized papers (OP), and 1 bound volume (BV)
Abstract:Family papers of Edwin Augustus Harleston, African American artist, his wife, Elise, and his niece Edwina Harleston Whitlock. The papers include correspondence, personal papers, sketchbooks and other artwork, writings by Harleston and Whitlock, research files, printed material, and a small number of photographs.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.

Related Materials in Other Repositories

Edwin A. Harleston papers, South Carolina Historical Society Library.

Source

Gift, 2010.

Citation

[after identification of item(s)], Edwin A. Harleston and Edwina Harleston Whitlock family papers, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.

Processing

Processed by Elizabeth Roke and team, October 31, 2012.


Collection Description

Biographical Note

Edwin Augustus Harleston (1882-1931), African American artist and activist, was born in Charleston, South Carolina. He married Elise Forrest (1891-1970), a photographer, in 1920. Edwina Harleston Whitlock (1916-2002), their niece, who was also known as "Gussie," was raised by the couple after her parents died. Edwin Harleston was active in the Charleston Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), founded in 1917. Both Edwin and Elise also worked for the family business, the Harleston Funeral Home.

After graduating as valedictorian from Avery Normal Institute in 1900, Harleston studied at Atlanta University, where W.E.B. Du Bois was his mentor and professor. Du Bois would later promote Harleston's career through publicity and commissions. From 1905-1913, Harleston studied at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. In 1919, Elise Harleston studied at the Brunel School of Photography in New York City. In 1920, she studied photography with Cornelius M. Battey at the Tuskegee Institute and became South Carolina’s first female African American photographer.

Harleston received his greatest recognition as a portrait artist from 1922-1931. In 1922, Edwin and Elise founded the Harleston Studio, a portrait and photography studio created to promote the couple's artistic collaboration. In 1924, Harleston was commissioned to paint a portrait of Pierre S. du Pont, furthering his reputation as one of the most distinguished African American painters of his time. In 1925, the NAACP awarded Harleston its Amy Spingam Medal for his work "A Colored Grand Army Man", based on a photograph by Elise. In 1930, Harleston assisted Aaron Douglas in painting the murals at Fisk University, producing a portrait of Douglas later in the year. In 1931, Harleston received the Harmon Foundation's Alain Locke Prize for his painting "The Old Servant".

In his role as an African American activist, Harleston was involved with the NAACP, the South Carolina Interracial Commission, and the Avery Institute. He helped to found the Charleston Branch of the NAACP in 1917 and went on to be its first president. Harleston also produced art depicting the World War I experience of African Americans, including his play The War Cross and his painting "The Gas Attack".

Harleston died of pneumonia in 1931.

Edwin Augustus Harleston (1882-1931), African American artist and activist, was born in Charleston, South Carolina. He married Elise Forrest (1891-1970), a photographer, in 1920. Edwina Harleston Whitlock (1916-2002), their niece, who was also known as "Gussie," was raised by the couple after her parents died. Edwin Harleston was active in the Charleston Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), founded in 1917. Both Edwin and Elise also worked for the family business, the Harleston Funeral Home.

After graduating as valedictorian from Avery Normal Institute in 1900, Harleston studied at Atlanta University, where W.E.B. Du Bois was his mentor and professor. Du Bois would later promote Harleston's career through publicity and commissions. From 1905-1913, Harleston studied at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. In 1919, Elise Harleston studied at the Brunel School of Photography in New York City. In 1920, she studied photography with Cornelius M. Battey at the Tuskegee Institute and became South Carolina’s first female African American photographer.

Harleston received his greatest recognition as a portrait artist from 1922-1931. In 1922, Edwin and Elise founded the Harleston Studio, a portrait and photography studio created to promote the couple's artistic collaboration. In 1924, Harleston was commissioned to paint a portrait of Pierre S. du Pont, furthering his reputation as one of the most distinguished African American painters of his time. In 1925, the NAACP awarded Harleston its Amy Spingam Medal for his work A Colored Grand Army Man, based on a photograph by Elise. In 1930, Harleston assisted Aaron Douglas in painting the murals at Fisk University, producing a portrait of Douglas later in the year. In 1931, Harleston received the Harmon Foundation's Alain Locke Prize for his painting The Old Servant.

In his role as an African American activist, Harleston was involved with the NAACP, the South Carolina Interracial Commission, and the Avery Institute. He helped to found the Charleston Branch of the NAACP in 1917 and went on to be its first president. Harleston also produced art depicting the World War I experience of African Americans, including his play The War Cross and his painting The Gas Attack.

Harleston died of pneumonia in 1931.

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of the family papers of Edwin Augustus and Elise F. Harleston. The papers include correspondence (1903-1963), personal papers (1902-1936), sketchbooks and other artwork (1907-1930), writings by Harleston (1918-1931), printed material (1905-1937), and a small number of photographs (circa 1860s-1910). Materials consist of both originals and duplicates. Also included are the papers of the Harlestons' niece, Edwina Harleston Whitlock, who extensively researched her family history. Whitlock's papers consist of her research files on the Harleston family and African American history, writing projects on the life of Edwin Harleston (circa 1960-2005), and her personal files (1926-2006).

Correspondence consists of personal and professional correspondence, including many letters between Edwin and Elise Harleston. Personal papers contain calendars, diaries, membership cards, and financial records, some of which pertain to the Harleston Studio. Harleston's writings include notes and manuscripts for lectures. Artwork consists of sketchbooks as well as duplicates and slides of some of Harleston's portraits and drawings. Printed material includes newspaper clippings, brochures, periodicals, and programs collected by Edwin and Elise Harleston. Photographs consist of several tintypes of African Americans in late nineteenth-century Charleston.

Edwina Harleston Whitlock's research files contain clippings, biographical material, censuses, and other material relating to her research on the Harleston family and its context. The writings on Harleston include several unpublished biography attempts by Edwina Whitlock and her daughter, Mae Whitlock Gentry. Writings also include typescripts and interview transcripts from Edward Ball's published book on Harleston, The Sweet Hell Inside: The Rise of an Elite Black Family in the Segregated South (2001). Whitlock's personal files include legal matters, Harleston estate management, employment information, correspondence, family photographs, and other personal material.

Arrangement Note

Organized into two series: (1) Edwin A. and Elise F. Harleston papers and (2) Edwina Harleston Whitlock papers.


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