Russell Lee: Wheelwright, KY Photographic Collection, 1946

Descriptive Summary

Title
Russell Lee: Wheelwright, KY Photographic Collection, 1946
Creator
Lee, Russell, 1903-1986
Extent
.5 cu. ft. (1 Box): 65 items
Subjects
African-American coal miners
Children of coal miners
Coal mines and mining
Coal miners--Kentucky
Coal miners--Kentucky--Wheelwright
Coal miner's spouses-Kentucky
Kentucky--Social life and customs
Lee, Russell, 1903-1986--Photograph collections
Mountain whites (Southern States)
Photography--Exhibitions--Kentucky
United States--Coal Mines Administration
Business
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Business
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Basketball
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Sports and recreation
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Coal mining
Family life
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Wheelwright, Kentucky
Women.
Architecture
Business
City and aerial views
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men; Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Children
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Sports and recreation
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Children
Coal mining
Education
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Children
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Sports and recreation
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Architecture
Business
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Transportation
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Sports and recreation
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Sports and recreation
Transportation
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Sports and recreation
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Sports and recreation
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Children
Coal mining
Education
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Children
Coal mining
Education
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Medicine
Pikeville, Kentucky
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Architecture
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Transportation
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Children
Coal mining
Education
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Children
Coal mining
Education
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Methodist Church
Religions
Wheelwright, Kentucky
Women.
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Medicine
Men
Wheelwright, Kentucky
Women.
Children
Coal mining
Events
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Wheelwright, Kentucky
Women.
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Medicine
Wheelwright, Kentucky
Women.
African Americans
Blacks
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Methodist Church
Music and performing arts
Religions
Wheelwright, Kentucky
Women.
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Methodist Church
Religions
Wheelwright, Kentucky
Women.
African Americans
Baptists
Blacks
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Religions
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Baptists
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Religions
Wheelwright, Kentucky
Women.
Baptists
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Religions
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Military
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Business
Children
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Wheelwright, Kentucky
Women.
Business
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Labor organizations
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Military
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Children
Coal mining
Family life
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Military
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Children
Coal mining
Family life
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Wheelwright, Kentucky
Women.
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Business
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Wheelwright, Kentucky
Women.
Architecture
Bridges
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Street scenes
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Architecture
Children
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Oil and Gas Industry
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Architecture
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Street scenes
Transportation
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
African Americans
Architecture
Blacks
Children
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Street scenes
Transportation
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
African Americans
Blacks
Children
Coal mining
Education
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Coal mining
Family life
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Wheelwright, Kentucky
Women.
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Military
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Wheelwright, Kentucky
Women.
Children
Coal mining
Family life
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Wheelwright, Kentucky
Women.
African Americans
Architecture
Blacks
Coal mining
Family life
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Architecture
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Sports and recreation
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
African Americans
Architecture
Blacks
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Street scenes
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Architecture
Coal mining
Community services
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Men
Sports and recreation
Wheelwright, Kentucky
Women.
African Americans
Blacks
Coal mining
Floyd County, Kentucky
Lee, Russell, d. 1986
Medicine
Men
Pikeville, Kentucky
Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Finding Aid Author
Processed by: Staff, Jason Flahardy, and Lindy Melvin; machine-readable finding aid created by:Eric Weig, Lindy Melvin
Repository
University of Kentucky

Collection Overview

Biography / History
Russell Lee first came to national prominence in the 1930's, when he worked as a photographer for the Farm Security Administration. His reputation as a photographer rests on his ability to accurately and empathetically portray the daily lives, troubles, and joys of ordinary people. In addition to his work for government agencies, Lee is known as an industrial photographer, magazine illustrator and photojournalism teacher, retiring in 1973 from the Fine Arts faculty at the University of Texas.
Russell Lee was born on July 21, 1903, in Ottawa, Illinois. Lee experienced a childhood marked with instability and unsettling events: his parents' divorce, the death of his mother, and subsequent supervision by a number of legal guardians which included his grandparents and his great uncle. During the fall of 1917, Lee enrolled in Culver Military Academy in Indiana, where he spent the next four years, until his graduation in 1921. Lee then attended Lehigh University in Pennsylvania from 1921 to 1925 and earned a degree in chemical engineering. He returned to Illinois and accepted a position making composition roofing for Certainteed Products Company in Marseilles. In 1927 he married Doris Emrick; the following year, he was promoted to plant manager and was transferred to Kansas City. By 1929, he became exceedingly restless and bored with his career; he resigned and in September of that year the Lees moved to San Francisco where he pursued painting. A little over a year later, upon the suggestion of a friend, they relocated to an artist's community in Woodstock, New York.
After several years of frustration, painting portraits and landscapes in Woodstock, Lee purchased his first camera, a 35mm Contax, in 1935 to aid him in his painting and draftsmanship. He photographed his surroundings in Woodstock, venturing out to auctions to document the realities of the Depression as people were forced to sell their household goods. He also traveled to New York City in the winter of 1935-1936 and photographed urban scenes, as well as the effects of the Depression there: unemployment, hunger and despair. In the spring of 1936 he traveled to Pennsylvania and photographed the bootleg coal mines.
In the fall of 1936, Lee joined the photographic staff of the Resettlement Administration (RA), which was renamed the Farm Security Administration (FSA) in 1937. Both the RA and the FSA were New Deal programs created to assist poor and destitute farmers during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. He worked directly under the creative supervision of Roy Stryker, the head of the Historical Section and the director of photographic projects. The Historical Section's purpose and function was to publicize and gain national support for the FSA, through the dissemination of photographs illustrating the plight of tenant farmers, sharecroppers, and migrant workers. Stryker's documentary team created 77,000 still photographs from 1935 until 1942; many of these were published in a variety of newspapers, books and magazines. His graphic designers and editors produced posters and exhibitions of these photographs that toured cities around the United States, educating mostly urban Americans about the country's rural problems.
During his tenure with the FSA, Russell Lee crisscrossed the United States, documenting rural and urban communities. He specialized in photographic series; his two most famous series from this time are his photographs of San Augustine, Texas in 1939, and Pie Town, New Mexico in 1940. It was also during this time working for the FSA that the marriage between Russell and Doris Lee ended; they divorced in 1939. On assignment in New Orleans that same year, he met Jean Smith, a Dallas journalist. The two began working together and eventually married. Jean Lee quickly became a key factor in the success of Russell Lee's photographs.
In 1942, shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the United States' entry into World War II, Russell Lee left the FSA/OWI and joined the Overseas Technical Unit of the Air Transport Command (ATC), where he received a captain's commission. The Overseas Technical Unit was created to photograph the routes and airfields flown by the ATC. Frequently, American pilots flew into airspace completely unfamiliar to them, often while maintaining radio silence. Pilots and crew alike experienced difficulty in remembering details of long briefings prior to flight, so a unit of professional photographers was assembled to provide these pilots and their crew with images to aid in their meticulous briefings. A B-24 bomber specially modified for aerial photography was assigned to the new unit; the nose of the plane was removed and replaced with high-grade glass to minimize any distortion of the film being shot through it. These modifications enabled the OUT to photograph airfields and landscapes as the pilots would see them.
A year after leaving the Air Transport Command at the end of World War II, Lee came out of semi-retirement to accept an assignment from the Department of the Interior. This assignment came about as a result of worsening conditions in many mines and mining camps during the War and shortly thereafter. In 1946 the Department of the Interior and the United Mine Workers conducted a joint survey of medical, health and Mines Administration. At the time of the survey the coal industry was under government control, having been placed there by President Harry S. Truman in order to end a 59-day strike by the United Mine Workers of America. As part of the unique agreement between the government and the union, the survey was undertaken to document the working and living conditions then prevalent in the industry.
Under the direction of Rear Admiral Joel T. Boone, the survey teams journeyed to mining areas to collect data and photograph the conditions of mines and camps. Lee took the majority of the photographs in the survey, which document the many facets of each community: company stores and housing, mine interiors and exteriors, medical dispensaries, and everyday activities of residents. Lee made over 4000 images from August 1946 to February 1947 for the Coal Mines Administration; these negatives are now in the National Archives. About 225 photographs were used to illustrate the final report of the survey team by the Department of the Interior when, in 1947, it published A Medical Survey of the Bituminous Coal Industry, and a smaller supplement entitled The Coal Miner and His Family. One print was later selected for the Museum of Modern Art's Family of Man exhibition.
Following his assignment with the Coal Mines Administration, Russell and Jean Lee moved to Austin, Texas in 1947. That same year, Lee and Roy Stryker were professionally reunited, as Lee accepted a number of assignments from Stryker, who was then directing documentary projects for Standard Oil New Jersey (SONJ). Lee continued his industrial photography through the 1950s, working for a variety of companies, including the Arabian-American Oil Company (Aramco), and Jones and Laughlin Steel. In 1960, Russell Lee accepted an assignment from the University of Texas at Austin to shoot a portfolio of photographs for a special issue of Texas Quarterly on Italy. Lee spent two and a half months in Italy and shot some 4000 photographs.
In the years following World War II, until the mid-1960s, Russell Lee photographed extensively in his new home state of Texas. Concurrent with his work for Standard Oil and J & L Steel, he contributed to magazines such as Fortune, and The New York Times Magazine, and was an associate staff member of Magnum. His work also appeared frequently in The Texas Observer. The majority of assignments Russell Lee accepted were socially oriented. In 1950, Lee worked in conjunction with the University of Texas to document the living conditions and health-problems of Spanish-speaking people in Texas. In the mid-1950s, Lee documented conditions at several state mental institutions in Texas. The bulk of Russell Lee's postwar Texas photographs conclude around 1965, when, following his retrospective exhibition, he accepted a position teaching photography at the University of Texas; Lee was the University's first photography instructor. Although he was still somewhat photographically active after 1965, Lee's students, not his own work, became his focus until his retirement in 1973. Russell Lee died on August 28, 1986.
Information in this biographical sketch was derived from Southwest Texas State University's Wittliff Gallery of Southwestern and Mexican Photography.
Scope and Content
The Russell Lee: Wheelwright, KY Photographic Collection consists of 65 black and white 8X10 photographs. The content of the photographs included citizens of Wheelwright, Kentucky and the local coal mining industry. The pictures were taken within a short period of time during the mid-1940's. On the back of each photograph, there is a label identifying the subject and date.

Contents of the Collection

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Barbershop in community center building"; two men in…

  • Box 1, item 01
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Men's and women's clothing store is company owned and…

  • Box 1, item 02
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "George Fain, son of Harry Fain, coal loader, is candidate…

  • Box 1, item 03
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Sunday dinner in home of Harry Fain, coal loader. The…

  • Box 1, item 04
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "View of downtown business section and part of company…

  • Box 1, item 05
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Changing shifts at the mine portal in the afternoon…

  • Box 1, item 06
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Harry Fain, coal loader, right, talks to his section…

  • Box 1, item 07
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Harry Fain, coal loader, places and secures safety timber…

  • Box 1, item 08
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Scene at the swimming pool owned by company. (Note the…

  • Box 1, item 09
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Class in high school attended largely by children of…

  • Box 1, item 10
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Swimming pool is open to all employees during spring and…

  • Box 1, item 11
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Filling station on main street."; two men lean in doorway…

  • Box 1, item 12
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Harry Fain, left, coal loader, and his son George shoot a…

  • Box 1, item 13
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "The golf course is open to all employees of the company…

  • Box 1, item 14
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Putting on the green of the golf course. This course is…

  • Box 1, item 15
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "George Fain, son of Harry Fain, miner, holds the flag on…

  • Box 1, item 16
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "High school students in auditorium. School is adjacent to…

  • Box 1, item 17
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Boy scouts first aid team practicing for statewide…

  • Box 1, item 18
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Harry Fain, coal loader, removes his "bank" clothes in…

  • Box 1, item 19
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Local UMWA Union meeting is held on Sunday morning in…

  • Box 1, item 20
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "One of the buildings on main street-- contains community…

  • Box 1, item 21
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Class in high school which George Fain (center), son of…

  • Box 1, item 22
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Sunday School class in Community Methodist Church."; seven…

  • Box 1, item 23
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Hospital Medical Staff: Front row- Miss Gertrude, RN; Dr…

  • Box 1, item 24
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Crowd awaiting to attend a movie showing on Saturday night…

  • Box 1, item 25
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Doctor gives the wife of a miner an inoculation in the…

  • Box 1, item 27
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Choir of Methodist church; Rev. Jackson is at extreme…

  • Box 1, item 28
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Congregation leaving Community Methodist Church."; group…

  • Box 1, item 29
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "The Reverend Jones, pastor of Baptist church."; African…

  • Box 1, item 30
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Congregation of the Freewill Baptist Church, which is…

  • Box 1, item 31
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "One of the pastors of the Freewill Baptist Church…

  • Box 1, item 32
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Scene at mine entry, Inland Steel Co. Mine. Official group…

  • Box 1, item 33
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Harry Fain, coal loader, assembles auger which he will use…

  • Box 1, item 34
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Member of mine rescue team, safety department, dons a gas…

  • Box 1, item 35
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Members of mine rescue team of safety department with…

  • Box 1, item 36
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Miners in local UMWA meeting discussing a point brought up…

  • Box 1, item 37
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Local UMWA union meeting is held on Sunday morning in…

  • Box 1, item 38
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Crowd of miners and families in soda fountain prior to…

  • Box 1, item 39
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Scene in front of the club (hotel). Front row…

  • Box 1, item 40
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Group in front of miner's home."; man stands and faces man…

  • Box 1, item 41
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Front porch of the Harry Fain home on Sunday afternoon…

  • Box 1, item 42
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Harry Fain, coal loader, removes "bug dust" from undercut…

  • Box 1, item 43
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Harry Fain, coal loader, uses pick to start hole which…

  • Box 1, item 44
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Harry Fain, coal loader, tamping with powder charge…

  • Box 1, item 45
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Harry Fain, coal loader, drills coal with hand auger…

  • Box 1, item 46
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Harry Fain, coal loader, lays track which will allow…

  • Box 1, item 47
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Harry Fain loading coal that has just been shot from the…

  • Box 1, item 48
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Harry Fain, coal loader, loads "bug dust" which is mixture…

  • Box 1, item 49
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Mrs. Fred Blackburn, wife of proprietor of liquor store…

  • Box 1, item 50
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "View of town."; bridge leads to an assemblage of buildings…

  • Box 1, item 51
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "General scene upper station Weeksbury Mining Camp (Eastern…

  • Box 1, item 52
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Main street looking toward general store.",, 1946-09-24

  • Box 1, item 53
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Street in colored section of company housing project…

  • Box 1, item 54
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Recess in colored grade school."; children link hands and…

  • Box 1, item 55
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Mrs. Temis Sullivan, coal miner's wife, in kitchen of her…

  • Box 1, item 56
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Officers of local American legion Charter. From left to…

  • Box 1, item 57
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Daughters of America meet weekly in community hall. Mrs…

  • Box 1, item 58
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Family of Harry Fain, coal loader. From left to right are…

  • Box 1, item 59
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Washday in miner's home in colored section of company…

  • Box 1, item 60
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Company-owned community playground and swimming pool. Golf…

  • Box 1, item 61
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Street in colored section of company housing project…

  • Box 1, item 62
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "Members of town board and police staff in front of new…

  • Box 1, item 63
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "George Fain, son of Harry Fain, coal loader, bowling…

  • Box 1, item 64
To top

Typewritten label on back of photograph: "1945 State Champion First Aid Team practicing for…

  • Box 1, item 65
To top

Researchers are encouraged to request collections at least 48 business hours in advance for retrieval. Questions? Contact us at https://libraries.uky.edu/ContactSCRC.

Requests

No items have been requested.



Enter a comma-separated list of the tags you want associated with this request.






Researchers are encouraged to request collections at least 48 business hours in advance for retrieval. Questions? Contact us at https://libraries.uky.edu/ContactSCRC.