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Light Reading: 1942

Light Reading: 1942

Winter 1942. Washington, D.C. "Jewel Mazique, Negro federal worker employed in the Library of Congress, spends much of her time reading." (Image in a jacket marked "Killed.") Acetate negative by John Collier for the U.S. Office of the Coordinator of Information. View full size.


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Negro condition

I'm curious to understand why the "Negro" characteristic of the federal worker is indicated here. What's the need? Fortunately she is another human being who likes to read. That's what matters in my view.

[This one of more than 50 photos taken by John Collier for the U.S. Office of the Coordinator of Information, following the activities of Mrs. Mazique as someone representative of African-American professional life in the District of Columbia during the war. - Dave]

The other woman

... is probably Collier's main woman, Mary Elizabeth (Trumbull) Collier, whom he married in 1943. If not, she sure looks like her.

The People's Poet

The framed poem above Jewel Mazique's bed is by Edgar A. Guest, known in his day as the People's Poet. Guest penned some 11,000 poems which were syndicated in some 300 newspapers and collected in more than 20 books. His grandniece Judith Guest is a novelist best known for "Ordinary People".


I just looked up Jewel Mazique's biography - she led an interesting life. She was deeply involved in the civil rights movement as an activist, writer, labor organizer, and mentor to activists.

Human lamp?

Anyone know what the woman in the background is doing? Something above her head that involves electric wiring. Curlers?

[She's holding a floodlight. Hence the title of this post. - Dave]

Light on Lighting

Seems an assistant in upper left is holding a primary light, not a flash in this case but corded. Then there is a secondary light from the right side, as shown by the shadow of the top of the pillow on the wall. Some large part of the skill of these veteran photographers may have been to balance lighting sources.

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