Do You Recognize Anyone in These Historical Photos? The Smithsonian Wants to Know

The American History Museum calls on the public to select images and identify subjects in photos pulled from the museum’s archives

Christening of Deane Baby, March 1949 The Scurlock Studio Collection, 1905-1994, Archives Center, NMAH
Sharon Jones' birthday party at Mrs. Howard's Nursery School, March 1949 The Scurlock Studio Collection, ca. 1905-1994, Archives Center, NMAH
Mrs. M. J. Dickerson, clergy and group, ca. 1935-1937 The Scurlock Studio Collection, Archives Center, NMAH
Unidentified graduation ceremony, undated Scurlock Studio Colelctions, ca. 1905-1994, Archives Center, NMAH
Fournet Drugstore Collection 1950-1977, Archives Center, NMAH
Miss American Legion Post 567 and court, "Antoine Perriodin," St. Martinville, Louisiana, 1954 Fournet Drugstore Collection, 1950-1977, Archives Center, NMAH
Unidentified wedding party, no date The Scurlock Studio Collection, NMAH
Debutantes with escorts at the annual Bachelor-Benedict Presentation Ball, 1947 The Scurlock Studio Collection, ca. 1905-1994, NMAH
Freedmen's Hospital Nurses, 1930 The Scurlock Studio Collection, ca. 1905-1994, Archives Center, NMAH
Rev. and Mrs. Henry with Anniversary Committee, Tenth [?] St. Baptist Church Pastor Anniversary, March 1960 The Scurlock Studio Collection, Archives Center, NMAH
Donald Kelly's birthday party, 1954 The Scurlock Studio Collection, ca. 1905-1994, Archives Center, NMAH
Addison and Mamie Scurlock at their 50th wedding anniversary party, November 18, 1962 The Scurlock Studio Collection, Archives Center, NMAH

To celebrate the September opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Museum of American History will display a series of photos from its archives depicting special occasions and everyday moments in African-American life.

A selection of 25 photographs from the American History Museum’s Archives Center will make up the display “Celebrating Our Memories, Celebrating Our Lives: Snapshots of African American Communities.”

Spanning several different categories including weddings, birthdays and religious ceremonies, the photos will be displayed in the museum’s lower level gallery from September 9 through December 27.  The museum’s curators are selecting the majority of the photos for the display, but they are also calling on the public to choose six of the images for the gallery.

Through May 27, the public is invited to vote for photos in six different categories on the American History Museum’s blog, "Oh Say Can You See." (Part II of the voting is here)

But this is not just a photo contest. The museum hopes participants may be able to identify some of the individuals in these photos about which they have little information beyond the photographer’s name. Voters will have the opportunity to explain their choices in a comment section, which could be used in the development of the display.

The photos up for public vote come from two different collections within the archives. The Scurlock Studio Collection features the work of Addison Scurlock and his sons who documented special occasions such as graduations and weddings in addition to significant events in Washington, D.C. Black and white photographs that were never picked up, or retrieved, from the family-owned Fournet Drug Store in St. Martinville, Louisiana, make up the archive’s Fournet Drug Store Collection.

Detailed stories from curators accompany each of the photographs on the ballot. Though little information is known about some of the images, the curators’ descriptions discuss the material elements in the photos and place them in a historical context.

Read each story (here's part II) and vote for your favorite image before midnight EDT, May 27. Little is know about each of the photographs, so if you recognize anyone in the image, leave a note for the curators in the message box on the site. The National Museum of African American History and Culture opens September 24, 2016. The selected images will go on view at the American History Museum September 9 through December 27, 2016 in “Celebrating Our Memories, Celebrating Our Lives: Snapshots of African American Communities.”