Welcome to the Charles “Teenie” Harris Archive at Carnegie Museum of Art! This one-of-a-kind archive is a richly detailed chronicle of everyday Black life in 20th-century America, depicting moments ranging from World War II to the Civil Rights movement, entertainers to local heroes, family milestones to private memories, and other significant hallmarks.
Pittsburgh-born Charles “Teenie” Harris (1908–1998) was the preeminent photographer for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the nation’s most prominent Black newspapers photographing Pittsburgh’s historic African American community from 1935 to 1975. In addition to his work as a photojournalist, Harris owned and maintained the Harris Studio in the Hill District for many years, documenting his friends, family, and community members.
Thanks to the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Carnegie Museum of Art has digitized more than 70,000 of Harris’s negatives, and the collection is available to browse online!
Today, the Charles “Teenie” Harris archive is a living resource, activated through the participation and memories of our communities and dedicated museum staff members. The archive’s reach stretches worldwide and expands many other archives documenting American life. We thank the community for their continuous input and support of Harris’s work and legacy, and we invite you to delve into the archive to experience the many moments Harris captured.
The Charles “Teenie” Harris Archive consists primarily of photographic negatives. As a whole, the collection consists of more than 70,000 negatives (58,970 of which are 4×5 inch black-and-white negatives; 14,350 are black-and-white negatives in medium formats estimated between 1965 and the 1980s; and 454 are nitrate negatives in varying sizes that seem to date from the late 1910s to early 1940s). Additionally, the collection contains an undetermined number of 35mm black-and-white and color negatives that have yet to be cataloged and approximately 5,000 feet of 16mm motion picture film, featuring original Harris footage spliced with commercial newsreel and cartoon footage, most from the 1940s. Finally, Carnegie Museum of Art maintains 560-lifetime gelatin silver prints of Harris images, including many that were printed or hand-colored by the artist. Separately, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Oliver Room holds 3,000 prints acquired in 1997.
The archive’s holding of negatives contains most of Harris’s work but may not be complete. Certain negatives of documented Harris images are missing. A small portion of the archive may be the work of other photographers for the Pittsburgh Courier. Where doubt exists, the catalog record reads “attributed to Charles ‘Teenie’ Harris” if the work is likely to be his; or “American, 20th century” if the photographer’s identity is unknown. Copy negatives of another photographer’s work are ascribed to Harris “after another photographer,” who is named if known.
How do we catalog the negatives?
Carnegie Museum of Art actively sought to shape its management of the archive in collaboration with an advisory committee of Harris family members, academic specialists, and Pittsburgh community leaders who insisted on the African American community’s ownership of the history represented in Harris’s images. Consequently, the archive catalog is based on first-person accounts by Harris’s subjects and contemporaries or contemporaneous publications such as Flash Newspicture Magazine and the Pittsburgh Courier. It is updated regularly as new information becomes available.
Titles of Harris’s photographs are descriptive and based on the content of the image. As an intentional practice, community members or contemporaneous published sources such as the Pittsburgh Courier provide valuable information such as personal names, locations, dates, and events. As research continues, this data is subject to change.
How does our community keep the archive alive?
Through outreach efforts with local families and community events, the Charles “Teenie” Harris Archive continues its work in identifying the people, places, and events captured in the iconic images.
We offer both prints for personal use that you can purchase in our online store and digital image files for research and publication. For more information, click here to learn more about our image rights.
Want to support the archive?
More than 70,000 of the photographs captured by Charles “Teenie” Harris have been preserved and cataloged by Carnegie Museum of Art. But approximately 14,000 images have yet to be digitized, leaving the identities of their subjects unknown and images hidden from history—but you can help! By supporting the Charles “Teenie” Harris Archive, you will enable our archivists to continue to preserve, protect, and exhibit this national treasure. Make your enduring investment in Pittsburgh culture, history, and art by contributing to Carnegie Museum of Art.