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Robert H. McNeill family papers, 1839-2008

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BOX 1-24 Robert H. McNeill, 1917-2008
The Robert H. McNeill series covers mainly Robert’s career as a professional photographer, although files relating to his military service and personal interests are also present. The bulk of the series is comprised largely of four groups: correspondence, military file, photography file, and subject file. The correspondence consists chiefly of incoming letters from family and friends with the majority of the letters dating from 1937 to 1945. The bulk of the family letters, mostly incoming, are from the World War II period and contain primarily news of family and friends. A few letters from Robert’s mother include brief observations about the war’s effect on the countryside and cities during train trips to visit her daughter, Katherine, in New York City. Several letters from Robert's father convey his father’s efforts to have photographic prints made that Robert requested and advise Robert to set a good example to his men as an officer. Letters from Robert's parents also contain descriptions of their personal and professional activities. A 1952 letter from Robert's father mentions the World Series between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Yankees. His father attended several of the games while visiting his daughter in New York. Letters from Robert to his parents are located in the series for their papers.

Most of the general correspondence consists of letters from Robert’s friends during World War II. They feature descriptions of camp life and news about friends and discuss occasionally their treatment as African American soldiers. Locales include Camp Atterbury, Indiana; Camp Lee, Virginia; Fort Meade, Maryland; and Fort Huachuca, Arizona. A letter (27 January 1943) from a friend at Camp Lee mentions seeing a reproduction of Robert’s photograph of the first African American to be sworn into the United States Navy. Several letters in the general correspondence from Robert’s friends contain mentions of baseball and football, including one letter (October 1940) describing Jackie Robinson’s prowess as a college football player as “so good in a broken field that the boys are scared to kick to him.”

The military file also contains material relating to Robert’s stint in the United States Army as well as his service in the United States Army Reserve. McNeill trained at Fort McClellan, Alabama, and served in the 594th Ordnance Ammunition Co. at Guadalcanal. The majority of the military file, however, focuses on Robert's time in the Army Reserve, especially the training courses he attended while in the Reserve and includes material pertaining to a photography course Robert taught.

The photography file chronicles Robert McNeill’s endeavors as a freelance photographer in Washington, D.C., primarily from 1946 to 1950. These files consist chiefly of business papers, clippings, materials related to exhibitions, loans and other uses, and photography magazines. The business file captures his endeavors to operate his own studio and freelance news service. Although his employment as a government photographer began in 1950, the photography file includes occasional freelance work after 1949. The clippings in the photography file provide a record of Robert’s published photographs in various newspapers and magazines. The clippings consist of two files: chronological and topical. Both files showcase Robert’s prolific coverage of community, social, and news events in the District of Columbia. The majority of the photography file comprises the “exhibitions, loans, and other uses” files and document the growing appreciation of Robert’s photography in the early 1980s. The files feature many of the exhibits and venues that displayed Robert's work, such as A Century of Black Photographers, Free Within Ourselves at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Art, the Visual Journal: Harlem and D.C. in the Thirties and Forties at the Smithsonian’s Center for African American History and Culture, and as part of the U Street Heritage Trail in Washington, D.C. Papers relating to Robert’s tenure as photographer with the Department of Defense and the Department of State are located under those headings in the subject file of the Robert H. McNeill series. (Most of his photographs, both personal and professional, are held by the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division.)

The subject file of the Robert H. McNeill series covers a wide range of his personal and professional activities. Robert's employment as a government photographer is documented in files relating to the Department of Defense and the Department of State. The bulk of these files relate to the Department of State and reflect his work assignments photographing foreign dignitaries, secretaries of state, and staff events. Other subject files chronicle Robert’s years as a student at Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C., his brief stint at Howard University where he photographed Olympian Jesse Owens in 1936, which led to his career as a photographer, and his relationship with the Gamma Tau fraternity (first established at Howard University). Also represented are files reflecting his interest and affiliation with photography associations and camera clubs, particularly the FotoCraft Camera Club.

Material types include correspondence, journals, notebooks and notes, photographs, daybooks and ledgers, talks, reports, layouts and sketches, a sketchbook, calendars and schedules, address books, biographical material, press releases, newsletters, memorabilia, invitations, Bibles, programs, certificates, bank books, bills and receipts, leases, identification and membership cards, business cards, lists, newspaper clippings, printed matter, and other material.
Arranged alphabetically in seven groups: address books, calendars, correspondence, journals, military file, photography file, and subject file.
BOX 1 Address books, circa 1973-circa 1999
(5 folders)
BOX 2 Address books, undated
BOX 2 Calendars, 1938-1940, 1951, 1959, 1969, 1987
(5 folders)
BOX 2 Correspondence
BOX 2 Family
BOX 2 McNeill, Bertie Robinson (wife), 1964-1966
BOX 2 McNeill, Lula Briggs (wife), 1942-1944, undated
(4 folders)
BOX 3 McNeill, Mary A. (mother), 1928, 1938-1943
(3 folders)
BOX 3 McNeill, William C. (father), 1937-1944, 1952
(5 folders)
BOX 3 Other relatives, 1942-1945, 1965-1966, 1974, 1980, 2000, undated
(4 folders)
BOX 3 General, 1940-1950, 1958-1983, 1992-1998
(8 folders)
BOX 3 Letters of recommendation, 1938-1945
BOX 4 Journals, 1964, 1979-1988
(3 folders)
BOX 5 Military file
BOX 5 United States Army
BOX 5 Bibles, 1941-1942
BOX 5 General, 1942-1945
(3 folders)
BOX 5 Journal, 1942-1943
BOX 5 Negroes and the War, 1942
BOX 5 Notebook, circa 1942- 1943
BOX 5 Sketchbook, 1944
BOX 5 United States Army Reserve
BOX 5 Certificates, 1951-1966
BOX 5 General, 1946-1952
(2 folders)
BOX 6 General, 1953-1979, undated
(11 folders)
BOX 6 Identification cards, officers' mess cards, and related material, 1954-1966
BOX 6 Pistol
BOX 6 General, 1956-1957
BOX 6 Marks, 1957-1958
(2 folders)
BOX 6 Team, 1958
BOX 6 Printed matter
BOX 6 General, 1950, 1957, undated
BOX 7 Report to the Army (newsletter), 1950-1954
(3 folders)
BOX 7 Retirement and related documents, 1942-1956, 1963, 1969, 1977
BOX 7 Training
BOX 7 Administration, 1954
BOX 7 Chemical, biological, and radiological warfare, 1953-1958
BOX 7 Command and staff organization, procedures, and techniques, 1956-1959
BOX 7 Communications, 1949-1953
(2 folders)
BOX 7 Extension courses, 1951-1958
BOX 7 Lesson plans, 1953-1959
(2 folders)
BOX 7 Logistical management, 1957-1960
(2 folders)
BOX 8 Nuclear weapons, 1963
BOX 8 Photography, 1950-1955
(3 folders)
BOX 8 Psychological warfare, 1956-1959
BOX 8 Schedules, 1953-1966
(2 folders)
BOX 8 Signal School, advanced courses, 1951-1955
(3 folders)
BOX 8 Standard operating procedure and command policy, undated
(2 folders)
BOX 9 Supervision of tactical wheel vehicle operation and maintenance, 1954-1958
BOX 9 Turn-in slips, 1956-1958
BOX 9 Photography file
BOX 9 Business papers
BOX 9 Advertising and publicity, 1946-1949
BOX 9 Apprenticeships, 1946
BOX 9 Bank books, 1946-1956
BOX 9 Bills and receipts, 1945-1951, 1958-1962
(4 folders)
BOX 9 Business cards, undated
BOX 9 Caption data book, undated
BOX 9 Copyright and trademark information, 1946, undated
BOX 9 Correspondence, 1943-1958, 1967, undated
(2 folders)
BOX 10 Daybooks and ledgers, 1938-1950
(6 folders)
BOX 11 Daybooks and ledgers, undated
BOX 11 Equipment, 1940-1952
BOX 11 Insurance, 1942-1951
BOX 11 Layouts, copy sketches, and lettering, 1937-1941, 1955, undated
(2 folders)
BOX 11 Leases and related material, 1945-1950
BOX 11 News releases, 1945-1947
BOX 11 Notebook (includes clippings about photography), 1936
BOX 11 Notes, 1960-1961
BOX 11 Orders and jobs, 1950, 1960
BOX 11 Permissions and releases, 1939-1940, 1949, undated
BOX 11 Photographs sold
BOX 11 List, 1941-1942
BOX 11 Sales slips, 1953-1954
(2 folders)
BOX 11 Photography, tips and techniques, 1953-1955, undated
BOX 11 Press passes, 1937-1941
BOX 12 Price lists and rates, 1940, 1949, 1957, undated
BOX 12 Stationery, 1949, undated
BOX 12 Taxes, 1948-1954
BOX 12 Clippings
BOX 12 Chronological file
BOX 12 1935-1946
(8 folders)
BOX 13 1947-1954, 1967-1985, 2002, undated
(5 folders)
BOX 13 Topical file
BOX 13 Churches, religion, women, and children, 1937-1948, undated
BOX 13 Howard University, schools, Girl Scouts, Parent-Teacher Association, District of Columbia police and firemen, cab drivers protest, traffic accident, men, education, farmers, Elks (fraternal order), Odd Fellows, and Pennsylvania State Club of D.C., 1937-1947, undated
BOX 13 Miscellaneous, McNeills, Logans, sports, model airplane show, and advertising, 1936-1948, undated
(2 folders)
BOX 13 Performing arts, artists, Negro History Week, visual artists, Lillian Evans Tibbs (Evanti), Armond Scott, Emmett Scott, and Fair Employment Practices Committee, 1938-1946, undated
BOX 14 Victory Mutual Life Insurance Co., Associated Producer of Negro Motion Pictures, National Association of Colored Women, South Atlantic High School, New Negro Alliance, NAACP, weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, sororities, and fraternities, 1937-1948, undated
BOX 14 Young Men's Christian Association, Young Women's Christian Association, aviators, aviation, World War II, veterans, military, diplomats, Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC), and drill teams, 1937-1947, 1954, undated
BOX 14 Exhibitions, loans, and other uses
BOX 14 A. Philip Randolph: For Jobs and Freedom, 1994-1995
BOX 14 Anacostia Museum and Center for African American Culture, Washington, D.C., 1982, 1990-2002
(2 folders)
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