The Double Consciousness of a Photograph

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  • Title: The Double Consciousness of a Photograph: Reuniting the Lost Civil Rights History with the African American Elevator Operators of Hartford, Connecticut
  • Author(s): Kenneth DiMaggio
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: The Image
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of the Image
  • Keywords: Double-Consciousness, W.E.B. Dubois, G. Fox Department Store, Civil Rights, African American Elevator Operators
  • Volume: 9
  • Issue: 4
  • Year: 2018
  • ISSN: 2154-8560 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2154-8579 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/2154-8560/CGP/v09i04/19-28
  • Citation: DiMaggio, Kenneth . 2018. "The Double Consciousness of a Photograph: Reuniting the Lost Civil Rights History with the African American Elevator Operators of Hartford, Connecticut." The International Journal of the Image 9 (4): 19-28. doi:10.18848/2154-8560/CGP/v09i04/19-28.
  • Extent: 10 pages

Abstract

A photograph of male and female African American elevator operators in a former Hartford, Connecticut department store has begun to take on iconic status. Today the former department store is now home to a community college serving an immigrant, urban, and minority student population. The photograph receives prominent display in the school and also during social events and fundraising appeals. As a result, this picture’s other history has begun to get told, that being, a narrative where operating an elevator was a prominent job for an African American man or woman to aspire for in the 1930s and up until the 1950s, and eventually how these aspirations rose to management careers within the store and beyond for some of these operators. The African American elevator operators of the former G. Fox Department Store of Hartford, Connecticut serve also as a critical example of how a photograph is a repository of a secret or double consciousness, one where W.E.B. Dubois noted was part of a “sense of always looking at the world through the eyes of others.” The surfacing of this consciousness, how it redefined the space it now sits in, and how it reconfigures the past it now portrays, will be examined in this article.