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About this collection

This elaborate photo album or lap desk contains photographs of African Americans and other individuals of undetermined ethnicity dating from approximately 1870 to 1925.  The types of photographs include tintypes, cabinet cards, cartes de visite, silver gelatin prints, and photo booth snapshots. Little is known about the creator of the collection:  the album was abandoned in a freight forwarding facility in Kentucky where an employee took it to a local library because he did not want it destroyed.  The librarian noticed that many of the photographs had been taken by El Paso photographers, so she contacted the UTEP Library which accepted it as a donation.  A small amount of correspondence found with the album was addressed to Ada Tharp, Thorp, or possibly Thorne, so we decided that she was probably the original owner.  Few of the photographs are identified.  The album includes a removable writing surface and spaces for stationery, ink, and pen, thus its name—a “lap desk.”  The subjects of the photographs include African American men in military uniforms, many photos of African American women and children, and other well-dressed people.  Besides El Paso, Texas, many other locations are mentioned including other cities in Texas, New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and towns in Arkansas, Florida, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, and New Mexico.        

 
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