Harry D. Johnson
Photograph Collection

Louisiana Division
New Orleans Public Library


Date range: ca. 1890-1935
Size of collection: 66 prints
Source: Donation, Harry D. Johnson, 1956; additional donation at some later time, undocumented
Terms of Access: Available to registered researchers by appointment
Copyright Information: Please discuss with an archivist in the Louisiana Division


Historical Note

Very little is known about Harry D. Johnson. He was born in New Orleans in 1879, the son of Henry L. Johnson and Agnes L. Heffernan. According to New Orleans city directories and Orleans Parish voter registration records, he made his living as a clerk for New Orleans News Co., and later as a salesman and collector for Julius Meyer's paper company and finally as a salesman for United Paper Company. Johnson was apparently an active member of the New Orleans Lodge No. 30, B.P.O. Elks. He died in 1962 and was survived by a brother and 3 sisters, one of whom, Hazel Leah Johnson Owen, is the subject of several of these photographs. He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery.

A letter from City Librarian John Hall Jacobs to Johnson, dated August 23, 1956, records Johnson's donation of 35 of these photographs to New Orleans Public Library. The letter is accompanied by a list of the photographs (a 1990 inventory of the photographs showed that 6 of the original prints were missing at that time; the missing images have not been located). An additional 38 photographs (all taken in City Park) were identified by a former Louisiana Division curator as Johnson photographs and separated from the Alexander Allison Collection sometime around 1990. The evidence used to identify the photographs as Johnson's is not documented, although the curator apparently based her judgment on internal clues in the photographs themselves.

We are not, in fact, certain that Johnson was the photographer who took these photographs; he may simply have collected them. It is clear that certain of the photographs (those in which he himself appears, for example, and group photographs of McDonogh #10 pupils and of the New Orleans Elks) could not have been taken by Johnson. Other photographs, apparently dating from the 1890s, would have to have been taken when Johnson was in his teens.

Some evidence on the photographs from the original donation does suggest, however, that he may have been at least an amateur photographer. A number of the photographs from the original donation are stamped with a circular mark that reads "Harry D. Johnson, New Orleans"; the address 1637 Erato St. (his home address from ca. 1904-1925) has been erased from the center of the stamp in many of the photographs. The stamp is suggestive of the sort of mark a professional photographer might have used to identify his work, although it may simply be an ownership mark. In addition, one image (of Christ Church) retains its original matte, embossed with the name "Harry D. Johnson," in the manner of professional photography studios. However, New Orleans city directories for the relevant time contain no listing for a photographer named Johnson, and Johnson himself is always identified as a clerk, collector, or salesman. Thus, the origin of the photos in the Johnson Collection remains something of a mystery.

Scope and Arrangement

The photographs are arranged into four general subject groups depicting New Orleans' City Park; a variety of buildings in the city; individuals or groups, both identified and unidentified; and activities or buildings connected to the New Orleans Elks. The majority of the photographs are undated and one depicts an unidentified scene.

Most of the prints from the original donation are unmounted; they vary in size from 5" x 3" to 8" x 10". The City Park prints are ca. 5" x 7" and are mounted on 7" x 9" board.

Each print was scanned (by a Louisiana Division volunteer) on a Hewlett Packard 4100c scanner in greyscale mode at a resolution of 400 dpi. Scanner images were saved at a width (or height) of 1400 pixels in TIFF format. The TIFF images were edited using Photoshop 4.0 to produce greyscale JPEG images of 600 pixel width (or height). The JPEG images were again edited to produce 200 pixel width (or height) thumbnail images. The JPEG versions are available online; see the section below for individual image descriptions and links to individual files.

We have retained the captions found on the reverse of the prints, some of them probably written by Johnson himself, others by the curator who recataloged the collection in 1990. Additional identifying information has occasionally been added in parentheses.

Photographs removed from the Allison Collection are indicated by a *.

Detailed Description of the Records
Click on a description for a 200 pixel width/height version of the print.

City Park *
City Park lagoon *
McDonogh Oak (in foreground); Carousel Building (in background), city Park *
City Park *
City Park *
City Park lagoon *
City Park *
City Park *
City Park lagoon *
Peristyle, City Park *
City Park lagoon *
City Park lagoon *
City Park *
City Park lagoon *
Peristyle, City Park *
City Park *
City Park *
Front gate, City Park Avenue *
City Park *
City Park *
City Park lagoon *
Bird Island, City Park *
City Park *
Peristyle, City Park *
Dunbar Pavillion (1905), City Park *
Bird Island, City Park *
City Park *
City Park *
City Park *
City Park lake *
City Park lake *
City Park lake *
City Park *
Polo Field, City Park *
Country Club, City Park *
City Park (Sign says "Racing and fast driving are prohibited") *
City Park *
City Park (Sign says "Racing and fast driving are prohibited") *
City Park lake *
City Park
City Park, Langles Bridge *
City Park *
City Park, Peristyle *
City Park lagoon *
City Park *
Beauregard Monument (at entrance to New Orleans Museum of Art, City Park) *
Beauregard Monument (Duplicate of previous photograph) *
Bridge at Esplanade and City Park (Spanning Bayou St. John at entrance to New Orleans Museum of Art) *

Unidentified

Old "I.C." Station in New Orleans (Illinois Central Station, Saratoga St. [now Loyola Ave.])
"New" St. Charles Hotel (The third St. Charles Hotel; opened in 1896)
Webster School (Co. Dryades and Erato Streets)
Webster School (Duplicate of previous photograph)
Lacoste hide business in Quarter; picture taken during lawsuit
Christ Church; Miss Hazel Leah Johnson is in the foreground. She is now of Houston, Texas"
New Orleans Public Library (at Lee Circle, demolished 1958)
Newman House, 1765 Prytania; later home of Julius Meyer (Johnson's employer)

5th grade class of McDonogh #10 School; Ed Christy, formerly City Engineer (co. Baronne & First Streets; Christy is far right, top row)
5th grade class of McDonogh #10 School (Duplicate of previous photograph)
Harry D. Johnson
Mr. and Mrs. Tom Thumb (Donated by Johnson)
Son of Colonel Carlyle at Carlyle, La.
Two N.O. girls flirting
A Carnival group
The truck was operated by National Biscuit Co. in New Orleans (Johnson's sister Hazel worked as a secretary for National Biscuit Co.)

New Elks' home building (127 Elk Place, ca. 1917)
Old Elks' home (Demolished to build new Elks' home>
Elks of New Orleans
New Orleans Elks, 1920; check marks identify 1) H.D. Johnson and 2) Mike Culligan
New Orleans Elks, 1920; check marks identify 1) H.D. Johnson and 2) Mike Culligan
New Orleans Elks, 1921, selling pralines to raise money; check marks identify 1) H.D. Johnson and 2) Mike Culligan
Harry D. Johnson and Miss Hazel Leah Johnson; 1860, by N.O. Elks, 1919


coded: 8/15/1999 (updated 4/17/2008--wme)
coded by: Irene Wainwright


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