Local photographer Norman Baynard (1908 – 1986) operated a commercial studio in Logan Heights for over 40 years where he documented the social, political and religious life of the San Diego’s African American community. From the 1940s through the 1970s, he photographed individual and group portraits, residences, businesses, street scenes, churches, weddings, sports, clubs, political and civic functions, funerals, Masonic/Eastern Star organizations, and Black Muslim groups. His large body of work constitutes a unique record of San Diego’s 20th-century African American community.
Originally from Michigan, he moved to San Diego in the 1930s and opened N.B. Studio out of his home in 1939. The studio later moved to the business district on 29th Street and Imperial Avenue. A long-time Muslim, Mr. Baynard changed his name to Mansour Abdullah in 1976. His photo studio’s name also changed, first to Baynard Photo, and then to Abdullah’s Photo Studio.
This vast collection was donated to the SDHC by his son, Arnold Baynard, in 1991. There is, however, only limited information about the images, recorded on index cards by the photographer — more information is needed!
Cataloging the Collection:
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and Union Bank have awarded the San Diego History Center grants to support enhanced access to the Norman Baynard Collection. The size of the collection will be calculated, and a selection of 500 of the most interesting images will be cataloged and scanned. Community meetings will be held to gather more information about the people and places in these images. 500 of the images are now available online and web visitors are invited to contribute additional information to help identify the photographs and tell their story. Exhibitions at both the History Center and the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation are planned for 2011.
On October 16th a selection of 50 images from the Baynard Collection was shown at the Jacobs Center. As viewers recognized people and places in the images, and shared their memories, this information was collected to add to the database. Images with information and stories attached are much more interesting and valuable to future viewers than images alone. Now is the time to collect this information before it disappears.
We need your help! Please let us know if you’d like to be informed of future events where we will meet to identify the people, places and events shown in these images. Send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 619-232-6203 x 116. Also, please plan to visit this site once the 500 photographs are posted and feel free to provide additional identifying information. Thank you!
African American Photography experts to assess Norman Baynard Collection
We are pleased to welcome three leading experts in African American studies and photography to the History Center on January 20, 2011 to assess the content of the Norman Baynard Collection of African American images. Dr. Deborah Willis, Professor and Chair of the Department of Photography and Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, will be joined by Dr. Camara Holloway, Assistant Professor of late 19th & early 20th century American Art at University of Delaware, and Dr. Cristin McVey, Department of Sociology, University of California, San Diego, to explore the local and national significance of this unique portrait photography captured from the 1930s through 1980s.
Once they have drawn initial conclusions about the collection they will meet with local media sources to present their findings before sharing that information with our members and the general public at an open reception at 5:30pm that evening. Following the reception, Dr. Willis will present an illustrated talk entitled Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present, during which she will discuss specific images from the Baynard collection. Holloway and McVey will also be on hand at the reception to discuss, respectively, their expertise in promoting the study of race and ethnicity through art, and the development of early black settlements in San Diego using portrait photography and family snapshots to tell this story. Dr. Willis will also sign copies of her book Posing Beauty which will be available for purchase at the event.
Virtual access to digital collections available 24/7