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Harry Walker Photographs

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    Family group photograph in front of a two-story house and beside a car in the driveway.

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    A woman standing on part of an airplane near a sign that reads KATHERINE STINSON.

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    A smiling young boy, in a striped shirt, sitting on a wooden deck next to a small toy phonograph.

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    A group of people atop a tall rocky outcrop. Two of the group are standing while the rest are sitting.

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    A road with Spanish moss-covered trees on the left and right.

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    Two boys wearing bathing suits and caps and standing near a body of water, with two buildings in the far right distance.

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    Buildings and cars covered in snow in east downtown Houston.

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    A group of four men standing side by side at an oil well in Brazoria county. The two men on the right are wearing work clothes and hard hats.

The extensive digital collection contains 753 images taken from the Harry Walker photographic negatives, covering the early 1900s to the 1940s. The pictures include snapshots of domestic life and leisure activities in Beaumont and Houston during that time, views of notable Houston landmarks, and historic images of pioneering aviatrix Katherine Stinson flying a Wright Brothers biplane.

The Harry Walker photographic negatives come from the architectural papers of Burdette Keeland. Through his wife Keeland acquired a collection of negatives owned by Harry Walker (the presumed photographer), who was married to Mrs. Keeland’s aunt. The negatives record Walker’s life growing up in Beaumont, Texas and his adult life after his move to Houston in the late 1910s.

Of particular interest are photographs of Walker’s home at 1914 Bissonnet in Houston, with views of the area that includes Poe Elementary School when the neighborhood was new in 1929. Historical shots of Houston show Rice University, Hermann Hospital, the Houston Ship Channel, the San Jacinto Monument, the San Jacinto Trust Company, and downtown Houston in the snow in 1925.

Viewers of the collection can also get a thorough immersion in the daily life of the era through scores of photographs of babies, children, families, laborers, and sailors in uniform. The images highlight the time period’s dress and furniture, interiors and exteriors of homes, and modes of transportation such as horse-drawn wagons, cars, ships, tractors, and trains. Examples of leisure activities captured on film include horseback riding, baseball, poker, swimming, fishing, bingo, hunting, picnics, and many other outdoor gatherings.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the Burdette Keeland Architectural Papers.

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