Box 5 of 6

Beginning count: 9,214

Today: 223

Total: 9,437 photographs and negatives since July 7th, 2015

I’m over halfway done with the collection at this point and some of the loose threads are coming together. Several of the photos I encountered earlier in my processing, and which I initially listed as “unidentified”, have been grouped with later photos I’ve found belonging to the same event. The photos had been separated by subject when I first began work on the collection. This was the case with the photograph below:

Tom Bradley with Momolu Dukuly

When I first processed this photograph, I entered it into my spreadsheet as “Tom Bradley with unidentified man.” I entered a detailed description of the man into my spreadsheet, numbered the photo, and then moved on to the next. In the time I’ve spent working on the project, there are hundreds of entries in my spreadsheet titled “unidentified man,” “unidentified event,” and “unidentified group,” etc. These entries all have to be identified and described if they are to be findable in the online photo collection.

This picture was filed under “Bradley, Tom” and I processed it in July of 2014. A few weeks ago, I recognized the man in this picture:

Momolu Dukuly with Tom Bradley and group

This photograph was filed under the name of a women’s group, which was incorrect. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, negatives are difficulty to identify and its easy to make mistakes when filing negatives. The person who worked on the collection before me didn’t have access to apps such as Negative Me to aid in processing.

The great thing about negatives are the amount of detail they can capture if the picture is in perfect focus. In the case of this particular negative, I was able to use my jewelers loupe to read the writing on paper the man is holding.


The letter is from Mayor Sam Yorty, and it welcomes Momolu Dukuly to Los Angeles for his visit. I can even read the date the letter was written. Dukuly held the offices of Liberian Foreign Minister and Secretary of State during his political career.

Last year, I also encountered this picture, which had been filed under “Cat.”


This is the problem with filing photographs by subject. Because the person initially processing the collection was unable to identify the woman, she filed it under what she did know, which was that there was a cat in the picture. However, the likelihood of anyone searching through the Curtis collection for a picture of a cat is very miniscule. In addition, the woman in the picture with the cat, who was unidentified, would never be searchable or found in the photo catalog because she wouldn’t be mentioned in the description “Cat.” I entered this photo into my spreadsheet as “woman with cat” and resigned myself to the possibility that I may never discover who the woman was.

Last week I was processing a batch of photographs of a woman named Louise Ridgle, who was campaigning for a seat on the California Assembly. I was searching through newspapers for information on the photographs that Curtis had taken, when I stumbled upon this article:


I recognized the woman on the left immediately as the lady with the cat. And luckily enough, the newspaper had the woman’s name in the caption. It seems that Amy Harris, who worked for candidate Louise Ridgle during her campaign for Assemblywoman, also adored her cat enough to ask Rolland J. Curtis to have her portrait taken with her cat. Another mystery solved!