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Katherine Handy Lewis photograph collection

Collection Data

The Katherine Handy Lewis Photograph Collection reflects aspects of Katherine Handy Lewis's personal life from the 1920s to the 1960s. The collection consists of individual studio portraits as well as group portraits documenting gatherings, such as banquets, presentations, dedications and family events, mostly revolving around her father, composer and musician W.C. Handy, known as the "Father of the Blues." Images documenting Lewis's childhood and her singing career are limited. Most of the gatherings and individual depicted are unidentified.Collection includes individual studio portraits of Lewis; her sister, Mae; son, Homer Lewis Jr.; and father, W.C. Handy, including one of him at age 19 in a Hampton Concert Band uniform. Lewis appears with her father and other family members and friends in many of the group portraits. Other group portraits show W. C. Handy with Allan Carrelli; his second wife, Irma; grandson, Homer; cousin, Blanche; and daughter, Lucile Handy Springes; and as a child with his mother and siblings. Also included is a view of Handy in performance (1950) and at the piano with Charles L. Cooke. Portraits of entertainers inscribed either to Lewis or to her husband or son (both named Homer) include George Gershwin, Margaret Harris, Dick Hyman, Emme Kemp, Lena Horne, and William Grant Still.The collection contains two dedications to W.C. Handy after his death; one with New York City Mayor Ed Koch, Lewis and other family members at the dedication of W.C. Handy Place in New York City; and the other in Memphis at the unveiling of the Handy statue in Handy Park, where Handy's widow, Irma, and niece, Mae, are shown participating in the ceremony.
Lewis, Katherine Handy, 1902-1982 (Collector)
Bakchy, Boris (Photographer)
Elké (Photographer)
Francis, Milton (Photographer)
Workman, David (Photographer)
Elcha (New York, N.Y.) (Photographer)
M. Smith Studio (Harlem, New York, N.Y.) (Photographer)
Dates / Origin
Date Issued: 1901 - 1979 (Questionable)
Library locations
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division
Shelf locator: Sc Photo Katherine Handy Lewis Collection
Lewis, Katherine Handy, 1902-1982
Handy, W. C. (William Christopher), 1873-1958
African American singers
African American musicians
African American composers
Blues musicians -- United States
African Americans -- Social life
African Americans -- Commemoration
Content: Some photographs bear photographer's or photography studio's handstamp on verso; some items bear photographer's name on recto. Some items bear handwritten, typewritten or printed captions on recto and/or verso. Some items are mounted; some items are inscribed. Some items are duplicates.
Content: Collection contains work by Boris Bakchy, Elké, Milton Francis, David Workman, Elcha and M. Smith Studio, among others.
Biographical/historical: Katherine Handy Lewis, an early blues singer, was the first to sing the songs composed by her father, W.C. Handy. Born in Normal, Alabama, in 1902, she moved with her family moved to Harlem, New York City in 1919 where she sang on the radio. In 1933, she married Homer D. Lewis and retired from performing to raise their son, Homer D. Lewis, Jr.. Lewis stayed active in the company founded by her father, Handy Brothers Music Company, of which she was president for a time. She died in the Bronx, New York City, in 1982.
Content: Forms part of the Katherine Handy Lewis papers, 1925-1983.
Physical Description
Extent: 218 items (.8 cu. ft., 2 boxes)
Extent: 11 photographic prints :gelatin silver, b&w ;36 x 28 cm. or smaller.
Extent: 47 photographic prints :col. ;36 x 28 cm. or smaller.
Extent: 101 photographic prints :gelatin silver, b&w. ;26 x 21 cm. or smaller.
Extent: 50 photographic prints :gelatin silver, b&w ;13 x 9 cm. or smaller.
Extent: 5 photographic postcards :b&w, col. ;14 x 9 cm. or smaller.
Extent: 4 photoprints :halftone, b&w ;16 x 16 cm. or smaller.
Type of Resource
Still image
RLIN/OCLC: 753705797
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b19320736
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 22bfeee0-e81f-0135-a140-6da3b0d1ea54
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