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Doshia Mae and William M. Blackmon photograph collection


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Doshia Mae Blackmon (1910-1966) was a nurse, a community volunteer, and cosmetologist. She was born Doshia Mae Thomas in Greenwood, Mississippi. She married William M. Blackmon, but the date of their marriage is unknown. However, a draft card for William Blackmon from October 16, 1940, lists his wife as Doshia Mae Blackmon and that they were living in Memphis, Tennessee. It was in Memphis that she attended Corine Beauty College. She moved with William to Los Angeles, California in 1946, where she became an active member of the Phillips Temple C.M.E. Church. Doshia Mae joined the Progressive Twelve Charity Club that was formed in 1947 and became their business manager in 1950. She also studied nursing and became a member of the staff at Broadway Hospital in 1957. Doshia Mae Blackmon died on June 7, 1966. She did not have any children, but was survived by her husband William, her mother Fannie Hart, and sister, Lucious Campbell.

William McKinley Blackmon (1910-2006) was a United States Army veteran of the Second World War and Korea, attaining the rank of Master Sergeant. He was born in Greenwood, Mississippi, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Willie Blackmon. He had a brother Lynn L. Blackmon. According to military and census records, he worked a civilian job in 1940 listed as "unskilled occupations in production of confections" for the Price Candy Company in Memphis, Tennessee. It is unclear when he married Doshia Mae Blackmon, but they were listed as married on his draft registration card from 1940. He moved with his wife to Los Angeles, California, sometime in 1946. He survived her death in 1966 and would live until September 11, 2006.

The Doshia Mae and William M. Blackmon photograph collection consists almost entirely of photographs that offer a glimpse into the former lives of Doshia Mae Blackmon and William Blackmon. The few exceptions to this are four typewritten obituary pages, a few newspaper clippings, and a pair of women's eyeglasses. The photographs range in date from approximately the late nineteenth century to 1979, but the majority are from about 1920 to 1950. Most of these photographs are standard black and white prints that were common in the mid-twentieth century, but older formats include photo postcards, cabinet cards, and photobooth style headshots. Some of the photographs are still mounted to black album pages or show signs of formerly being part of an album, but others are simply loose.

The collection provides a look at a Black family that is representative of the experience in American history known as the Great Migration. It offers visual documentation of Doshia Mae and William's lives, along with their friends and family, spanning both older and younger generations, beginning in Mississippi, migrating to Tennessee around 1940, and finally moving to Los Angeles, California in 1946. The 1940s is particularly well represented, with quite a few photographs of both men and women in military uniform. Other themes include weddings, picnics, portraits, children, and a funeral. Photographs dating from approximately 1890 to 1930 appear to be of Doshia Mae's family and childhood.

Very few photographs have any identifying information to help situate them in time, place, or subject. Those few photos that do have writing associated with them are usually too vague or limited to offer much value to someone without a close connection to the Blackmon family. Despite this, approximate dates and possible identities or locations can sometimes be inferred.

Sold by McBride Rare Books, July 2022.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Kenneth Cleary
Finding Aid Date
September 22, 2022
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Collection Inventory

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William "Willie" Blackson, circa 1890-1900.
Box 1 Folder 1
Family, circa 1890-1920.
Box 1 Folder 2
School Days, Greenwood, Mississippi, 1924-1934.
Box 1 Folder 3
Mississippi, circa 1920s.
Box 1 Folder 4
Photobooth headshots, circa 1930s.
Box 1 Folder 5
Friends and "My Sweetie", circa 1930s.
Box 1 Folder 6
Friends and sweethearts, circa 1930s.
Box 1 Folder 7
Children, circa 1920 - 1950.
Box 1 Folder 8
Family, circa 1930s.
Box 1 Folder 9
Friends and family, circa 1940s.
Box 1 Folder 10
Catherine Branch and Horace Simmons wedding, circa 1940s.
Box 1 Folder 11
Doshia Mae and William M. Blackmon, circa 1930-1950.
Box 1 Folder 12
Family events, color photographs, circa 1960s-1970s.
Box 1 Folder 13
Obituaries, 1966.
Box 1 Folder 14
Eyeglasses, circa 1966.
Box 1 Folder 15

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