In the center of documenting black beauty and glamour in its many forms throughout the early 20th century was the Scurlock Studio, the preeminent photo studio for Washington’s black community, headed by Addison Scurlock and his two sons, Robert and George.
The collection of images in the book “Picturing The Promise: Scurlock Studio and Black Washington” (Smithsonian Books, 2009) features some of the most impressive photographs of black life–men, women and girls–from the period. Scurlock Studio was astute at reflecting the crosssection of black glamour. Scurlock photographed black women and girls as they were: prosperous, carefree, elegant and fashionable in fur and sequins, nurturing and strong, and forever poised. They were singers, writers, soldiers, dancers, athletes, mothers. The images offer a range of black femininity and force at a time in history when their visual representation was extremely limited.