Everyday People: Snapshots of the Black Experience coming to MoSH

A new photography exhibition coming to the Memphis Museum of Science & History gives a rare glimpse into life of twentieth-century African Americans.


Everyday People: Snapshots of the Black Experience is a collection of studio and candid photos from 1900 until 1950s. The exhibition is scheduled to open on January 27, 2024.

everyday people exhibit graphic
Eric Echols
Everyday People: Snapshots of the Black Experience

“These images of anonymous families, women, men, and children invite visitors to explore photography as an art form, a window into history, and an important avenue for understanding Black culture,” MoSH wrote.

The photos come from a personal collection by Memphis artist and photographer Eric Echols. Echols said his collection started with an interest in collecting antiques and photos.

“The thing I noticed was it was rare to come across images of African-Americans and when I did see them, they were really expensive. I made it my mission to start collecting these images to build a collection I could study, share with my students, and one-day share with the world,” Echols said.

While at the Antique Warehouse on Summer Avenue, Echols said he came across a box labeled “African American Negatives.” Through a small grant from Tri-Star Arts, he was able to get the negatives scanned and digitized. After finding a few more boxes, Echols was able to gather 5,936 film negatives.

Old portrait of a woman with her three children
Eric Echols

Echols said the collection provides you with a small glimpse into the lives of everyday people: their professions, social status, family life, extra curricular activities, and what was important to them.

“They also allow us to honor the past by referencing those who came before us in hopes that the life they lived after the photograph was taken was in some way better than the circumstances before they were taken,” Echols said.

Through the exhibit, Echols hopes the photos will get viewers to start thinking about the lives those photographed lived and what they had experienced. There were no identifying labels to help find or name those photographed but Echols also hopes some may be able to be identified when people come out to see it.

See Everyday People: Snapshots of the Black Experience at MoSH beginning January 27. MoSH is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10:30 a.m. –to 5 p.m.

old portrait of a family
Eric Echols
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About the Author

Hello! I'm Jalyn Souchek, the Director of Content for I Love Memphis Blog! I love calling the 901 home. When I'm not running the blog you can find me cheering on the Grizzlies, at a concert, exploring a new restaurant or kicking back at one of our breweries. I hope you'll love experiencing Memphis with me.

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