Processed by Processed by Elizabeth Barret, Heather Fox, Caroline Rubens; machine-readable finding aid created by Heather Fox
William R. "Pictureman" Mullins photography collection
circa 1935 - 1955
Appalshop Archive, Appalshop, Inc.
Original negatives were numbered and sleeved after they came to the archive. Binders containing contact prints made from original negatives are arranged by general subject and are available on site.
Collection is open to researchers by appointment.
PMC: [identification of item], William R. "Pictureman" Mullins photography collection, Appalshop Archive.
65 boxes of negatives, one box of ephemera, 9 binders of contact prints from originals negatives, 4 binders of duplicate negatives, 3 binders of contact prints from duplicate negatives.
Born in the mountains of southwest Virginia in 1886, William Richardson Mullins was a self-taught photographer who earned his nickname "Pictureman" traveling by foot, bicycle, or by hitchhiking to take pictures of the people who lived in the area of Dickenson and Wise counties in Virginia. He subsequently moved across the mountain and established the Mullins Studio in East Jenkins, Kentucky specializing in "portraits, paintings and frames."
The collection consists of 3,600 black and white cellulose acetate safety negatives primarily in the formats of 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" and 3 1/2" x 4 1/4". After the negatives were deposited, Appalshop staff created prints from the original negatives, a full set of duplicate negatives, and contact prints from the duplicate negatives. The collection also includes one box of original prints made by the photographer in their original envelopes. Envelopes and original prints (2 1/2" x 4") are marked with what appear to be Mullins' notations and provide clues to his methods of keeping track of photograph orders.
Although the majority of the collection is comprised of portraits, Mullins also recorded scenes of ordinary life in eastern Kentucky and captured special events in the community such as weddings, baptisms, and funerals. One group of photos features African Americans who lived in the area. From 1943-1945, Mullins lived in Baltimore and worked in a shipyard. He continued to take pictures during this time and a small portion of the collection consists of images from this period.
In 1991-1992 Elizabeth Barret and Bob Gates interviewed eighteen people in and around Jenkins, Kentucky, where "Pictureman" worked. This collection of approximately twenty-three hours of audio on audiocassette is held at the Kentucky Historical Society as part of the Kentucky Oral History Commission (Collection number 18-62).
Original negatives are individually sleeved and numbered and contact prints are available on site.
Prints presumably made by "Pictureman" Mullins appear to be samples created for customers to choose from when ordering larger prints. Many of these photographs have notes penciled on the back.
The binders contain contact prints from originals negatives, duplicate negatives, and contact prints from duplicate negatives. The 9 binders containing contact prints from original negatives are organized according to the following general subject matter: children; women with children, men with children, men alone; women; Black men, Black women, Black children; Families; Death, William R. "Pictureman" Mullins; Buildings, exterior and interior, street scenes, events.
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