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The original item was published from 6/20/2023 8:12:54 AM to 8/11/2023 11:07:47 AM.

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Cape Fear Museum

Posted on: June 20, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Museum Opens Exhibition, Reflections in Black and White

Black and White images from Reflections exhibit

Revisit the exhibit originally on display in 2015. It features a selection of informal black and white photographs taken by Wilmingtonians after World War II before the Civil Rights movement helped end legalized segregation. Visitors will have a chance to compare Black and white experiences and reflect on what people’s lives were like in the region during the latter part of the Jim Crow era. 

Examine mid-century cameras and photographic equipment. Experience the “thrill” of opening a replica camera store photo envelope, a rare experience in today’s digital world. Flip through some recreated pages from artist Claude Howell’s scrapbooks.

Reflections in Black and White features selections from four large photographic collections:

  • African American photographer Herbert Howard was a postal worker, a member of the NAACP, and a semi-professional photographer. Cape Fear Museum was lucky enough to collect more than 1,000 images he took of the Black community. 
  • Local artist Claude Howell left an extensive collection of scrapbooks to the Museum. These 3 ring binders include hundreds of pages with photographs of Claude’s friends, local scenery, and people that he used as inspiration for his artwork. 
  • Student nurse Elizabeth Ashworth attended the James Walker Memorial Hospital School of Nursing right after World War II. Her photographs provide a glimpse of a group of young white women’s lives in the late 1940s. 
  • The Camera Shop, located on Front and Grace streets, was in business from the late 1910s through the early 1980s. The Museum’s collection includes a series of images from the late 1950s and early 1960s that patrons did not retrieve from the shop.

Historian Dr. Jan Davidson explained the concept behind the exhibit, “The different historical images speak to each other in fascinating ways. Most of us can see our own lives reflected in the images, we all eat, hang out with friends, and many of us have taken silly pictures of ourselves or our loved ones. These images show our common humanity and allow us to relate to people in the past as we might relate to a friend.”  

Cape Fear Museum hopes visitors explore the imagery, reflect on what they see, and consider the ways legally sanctioned racial segregation shaped the community in large and small ways.

Cape Fear Museum of History and Science, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is located at 814 Market Street and is open Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. Standard admission prices are $8 for adults; $7 for seniors, students and military with valid ID; $5 for children 6-17; and free for children 5 and under and for museum members. New Hanover County residents’ free day is the first Sunday of each month. Cape Fear Museum is also a proud partner of Museums for All and offers free admission to SNAP benefit recipients when they present an EBT card. More information:

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