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P.H. Polk Photographs

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MRC
Date: 4 May 2021

Biographical History

P.H. (Prentice Henry) Polk (1898-1984) was a Black American photographer. He studied photography at the Tuskegee Institute, where he later became a teacher, official photographer, and finally head of its Department of Photography. He is known particularly for his black-and-white portraits of both famous (Langston Hughes, Paul Robeson, George Washington Carver) and working-class/rural (his series "Old Characters" focused on formerly enslaved men and women from Macon County, Alabama).

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The P.H. Polk Photographs consists of five 8x10 portrait photographs (silver gelatin prints). Two are identified ("Mrs Cot and son" and "Mr George Moore") while the other three (a family, a couple outside their cabin, and two elderly individuals picking cotton). All but one are signed by Polk.

Arrangement of the Collection

No particular order.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Polk, P. H., 1898-1984.


African American photographers.
African Americans -- Photographs.
Photographers -- United States.


Southern states -- Pictorial works.

Genres and Forms




Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

P.H. Polk Photographs,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Purchase, 2021

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