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Father n Son Photographer Addison N. Scurlock and his son Robert. Scurlock

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  • Father n Son Photographer Addison N. Scurlock and his son Robert. Scurlock

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    Photographer Addison N. Scurlock took this portrait of himself with his son around 1920. Robert eventually took over his father’s photography studio, which served as a news service for many African American newspapers, including the Norfolk Journal and Guide, the Pittsburgh Courier, the Cleveland Call and Post, and the Amsterdam News. Robert later managed the Capital School of Photography, where he taught future Washington Post photographers and a young Jacqueline Bouvier.
    Addison Scurlock (1883-1964) was the photographer of black Washington. His portraits in particular those of the black elite – frame our understanding and memories of their lives in the first half of the 20th century. Scurlock's primary studio was at the corner of Ninth and U streets, NW. He and his wife Mamie lived at 1202 T Street, NW, with their sons Robert and George.

    Scurlock was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He moved with his parents to Washington DC in 1900. That same year, he pursued photography, primarily portrait photography, as an apprentice in a studio on Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. After four years, he opened his own studio in his parents' home on Florida Avenue, NW. In 1911 he moved his studio to 900 U Street, NW.

    The Scurlock Studio photographed most of the well-known local and national leaders. It also served as the official photographer for Howard University and the local junior high and high schools. Scurlock's sons also took photographs for newspapers and produced newsreels in the 1940s.

    The Scurlock Studio was a family business. Mamie Scurlock served as the business manager. Robert and George joined the business as photographers in the 1930s. In 1948 the sons opened the Capital School of Photography, where dozens of professional photographers and photojournalists received training. In 1952 Robert Scurlock branched out by opening Custom Craft Studios, specializing in color photography, at 1813 18th Street, NW.

    After Robert Scurlock's death in 1994, the Archives Center of the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, purchased the collection spanning nearly a century of Washington history.

    — with Rose Cannon.