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Joseph Owen Curtis Photograph Collection

 Digital Collection
Identifier: dcpl_p007


  • Creation: 1920 ca. - 1980 ca.



The Joseph Owen Curtis Photograph Collection documents the culture, social life, and architecture of Southwest Washington, D.C. from the 1920s through the 1980s. The entire Curtis collection has been digitized and is available here. The images are arranged in chronological order.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions to accessing this digital collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status and ownership of Curtis images varies throughout the collection, but has been noted for each item.

Biographical / Historical

Amateur photographer and historian Joseph Owen Curtis was born in 1915 and lived in Southwest for most of his life. Curtis’ many images of streets, businesses, and buildings document the architecture and social life of Southwest, primarily before the urban renewal of the 1970s. Curtis' detailed captions identify most of the individuals and places in his photographs and illustrate the significance of the institutions and relationships built in Southwest D.C. Of particular importance in the collections are photographs of the Willow Tree Athletic Club and football team, Miner Teachers College students and activities, numerous Southwest buildings and neighborhood streets, World War II servicemen (both overseas and in D.C.), and the Randall playground and Randall Junior High School communities (in the 1930s and at reunions in the 1950s and 1980s). In 1988, Curtis rephotographed the former sites of some of his previous photographs of Southwest; those slides, the only color photographs in the collection, document the loss of Curtis' native landscape.

Repository Details

Part of the The People's Archive, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library Repository

901 G Street NW
4th Floor East
Washington DC 20001