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Harry Adams photographs

Call Number: WA Photos 589

Scope and Contents

Photographic prints created and collected by Harry Adams, 1943-1985, that chiefly document events, activities, and individuals related to the African American community in the Los Angeles metropolitan area of California captured in his work for African American newspapers including the California Eagle and Los Angeles Sentinel.

Photographs that document events and activities include annual concerts of the Cavalcade of Jazz at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles, 1953-1958, discrete Freedom Rallies at the Los Angeles Sports Arena on June 18, 1961, and at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles on May 26, 1963, and a Conference of the Unemployed held at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles on May 21, 1964. A few photographs document a raid by the Los Angeles Police Department on the Black Panther Party office on December 8, 1969. There are also photographs of banquets and ceremonies related to groups including National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and United Civil Rights Committee as well as informal portraits related to Grammy Awards ceremonies.

Many of the photographs and informal portraits document local and national civic leaders and politicians as well as entertainers, celebrities, and athletes. There are also photographs related to the California Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers baseball teams as well as the football teams of California State University, Long Beach, Grambling State University, and University of Southern California.

Portraits of others include members of the Adams family, including Katherleen Norris Adams King, Marjorie Harris Adams, and Robbie Lee Evans Adams. The collection also includes many photographs collected by Harry Adams of him with others.

Photographic prints in the collection predominantly measure 8 inches by 10 inches (21.4 centimeters by 28.3 centimeters) with scattered examples with smaller dimensions.


  • 1943-1985
  • Majority of material found within 1951-1985


Language of Materials

In English

Conditions Governing Access

The Harry Adams Photographs are the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from William Reese Co. on the Frederick W. and Carrie S. Beinecke Fund for Western Americana, 2015.


Organized into three series: I. Identified Subjects, 1951-1985. II. Unidentified Subjects, 1951-1985. III. Collected Photographs, 1943-1985.


7.71 Linear Feet (19 boxes) : 1870 photographs: gelatin silver prints; 283 x 214 mm and smaller

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


Photographs prints created and collected by Harry Adams, 1943-1985, that chiefly document events, activities, and individuals related to the African American community in the Los Angeles metropolitan area of California and his career as a professional photographer as well as his work for African American newspapers including the California Eagle and Los Angeles Sentinel.

Harry Adams (1918-1985)

Harry Holden Adams, also known as "One Shot Harry," was an African American professional photographer in Los Angeles, California. He was born in Arkansas, the eldest child of Hunter Adams (1896-1966) and Robbie Lee Evans Adams (1897-1967) and brother to Hunter Havlin Adams (1920-2002) and Katherleen Norris Adams King (1923-2004). The Adams family moved to Southern California when Adams was three years old and initially settled in La Habra. Three years later they moved to Santa Ana, where his mother and extended family helped establish the Johnson Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Adams attended Santa Ana College and studied music and political science.

In 1939, he married Marjorie Harris Adams (born circa 1921) and they had a son, Harry Holden Adams, Jr. (born 1939) and daughter, Theresa Lenore Adams Devillae (1941-1991); they later divorced and Adams married Lorraine Proctor in 1956. He worked as a janitor for the Santa Ana Recreation and Park Department and attended Whittier College. In August 1944, Adams was drafted in the United States Army and served as a military policeman at Camp Harahan, also known as Camp Plauche, in Louisiana until his discharge at the rank of sergeant in 1946. After his military service, Adams and his family moved from Santa Ana to Los Angeles. He then graduated from the Moler Barber College in Los Angeles and worked as a security guard with Los Angeles County and then with the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department.

Around 1950, Adams attended the California School of Photography and Graphic Design and the Fred Archer School of Photography. In 1952, he resigned from the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department and opened a photographic studio at 4223 Avalon Boulevard in Los Angeles as well as an adjoining barbershop. In 1971, Adams relocated his studio to 4300 South Central Avenue and owned the Echo Barber Shop next door at the intersection of Central Avenue and 43rd Street in Los Angeles. Adams also worked as a staff photographer for African American newspapers in Los Angeles including the California Eagle and Los Angeles Sentinel. Additionally, he was a member of the Black Photography Association as well as a travel agent and a member of the African Tourist Travel Agent Association.

Adams died in from a heart attack while on a photographic assignment in Los Angeles.

Processing Information

Collections are processed to a variety of levels, depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived research value, the availability of staff, competing priorities, and whether or not further accruals are expected. The library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.

These materials have been arranged and described according to national and local standards. For more information, please refer to the Beinecke Manuscript Unit Processing Manual.

Description of photographs in the Harry Adams Photographs derive from examination of imagery and material by the processing archivist as well as his consultation of digital surrogates of photographic negatives available from the Harry Adams Collection at the Special Collections and Archives, Oviatt Library, California State University, Northridge, Northridge, California.

Each folder in the collection contains a single photographic print, except where two or more photographic prints are noted.

Guide to the Harry Adams Photographs
In Progress
by Matthew Daniel Mason
December 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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Opening Hours

Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.