Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Isaiah Rice Photograph Collection

Isaiah Rice
Special Collections recently added the Isaiah Rice Photograph Collection to our photography collections. Containing over 1,000 images taken by Isaiah Rice, the collection documents Asheville’s African American community from the 1950s through the 1970s. The collection was officially unveiled on October 23 at the second annual African Americans in Western North Carolina Conference at UNC Asheville.

Asheville native Isaiah Rice (1917-80),  a World War II veteran, was active in  community and civic affairs. He was a recreation supervisor at the Burton Street Community Center in his neighborhood, and served on the Asheville-Buncombe Community Relations Council. He was employed as a warehouseman and beverage salesman for 40 years. He often carried one of his many cameras, seizing countless opportunities to capture his family, neighbors, and community members on film. He photographed people at church, his neighbors and friends as they gathered for social events, folks attending parades and football games, as well as many scenes of people working and going about their business in downtown Asheville.  His photos document a thriving African American community in urban Asheville during the mid 20th century.

The collection contains photographs, slides, and negatives. A select group of photos is 
Asheville congregation
displayed online in the Isaiah Rice Photograph Collection, and an exhibit of photos from the collection will be on display on the third floor of Ramsey Library, outside of Special Collections, through December 15.

The Isaiah Rice Photograph Collection was donated to Special Collections by Rice’s daughter, Marian R. Waters, and his grandson, UNC Asheville History professor Dr. Darin Waters. Dr. Waters is working on a book based on the photos, and many more photos will be added to the online collection as work on the book progresses.

Isaiah Rice owned many cameras, including a small Minox camera that he constantly kept with him. It allowed him to take candid photos such as the one below, which appears to be taken out of the window of his delivery truck.

Downtown Asheville scene taken by Isaiah Rice.

The Collection contains hundreds of Minox photos. The Waters family loaned Special Collections his cameras, and this is his Minox along with a sheet of negatives and a pencil for scale: 
Minox camera and negatives.
Rice also owned a Zeiss/Ikon Ikoflex twin reflex camera, and the Collection contains over 500 slides that Rice took with this camera: 
Rice's Ikoflex twin reflex camera

Parade watchers, downtown Asheville. Minox photo by Isaiah Rice.
Walton Street Pool, Asheville. Ikoflex slide taken by Isaiah Rice.