“I am of course glad to have people interested in my pictures...but my great wish is that these human records shall serve some social purpose.” –Doris Ulmann, 1930

Trained as a pictorialist by Clarence White, Doris Ulmann’s early work includes a series of photograph portraits of prominent intellectuals, artists and writers: William Butler Yeats, John Dewey, Max Eastman, Sinclair Lewis, Lewis Mumford, Joseph Wood Krutch, Martha Graham, Anna Pavlova, Paul Robeson, and Lillian Gish. In 1932 Ulmann began her most important series, assembling documentation of Appalachian folk arts and crafts for Allen Eaton’s 1937 book, Handicrafts of the Southern Highlands. From 1927, Ulmann was assisted on her rural travels by John Jacob Niles, a musician and folklorist who collected ballads while Ulmann photographed. Doris Ulmann died August 28, 1934.

Lillie Johnson, student
African-American woman in big straw hat
John Willie Durham, furniture maker
Students building a house, Berea College: raising wall
Elderly woman, wearing a bonnet
Girl holding little girl with flowers
Man with beard, wearing hat
Marshall Vaughn, student, Berea College
African-American woman with white kerchief
Bakery, Berea College
Students, Berea College, reading around the fireplace
Tess Ledford, Mountain Weavers