[Fagleysville, Media, and Philadelphia, Pa. 1956]. Eleven leaves, illustrated with seventy-four black-and-white photographs in corner mounts, each approximately 3.5 inches square, most annotated in white ink, with manuscript caption on initial blank leaf reading, "Fellowship House Farm June '56 - Sept '56 - I was the 'intern' cook." Oblong folio. Contemporary crimson cloth photograph album. Disbound, with all leaves detached, most edges chipped occasionally costing a few letters of notations, all inserted into clear acetate sleeves. A few photos with minor soiling to outer margins. Good. Item #3815
A unique collection of vernacular photographs memorializing summertime activities at the Fellowship House Farm, a communal retreat owned and operated by the Fellowship House of Philadelphia, an interracial and interfaith advocacy group integral to the Civil Rights Movement. Fellowship House was first organized in 1931 and incorporated in 1941. The group purchased their farm, situated on about 120 acres outside of Pottstown, Pennsylvania some forty miles from Philadelphia, in 1951 (just four years before the present photographs were taken). The compiler of the photographs was a cook at the farm during the summer of 1956, and though she is unidentified, two photographs of the same young white woman are notated as "Me."
The Fellowship House Farm was an important and essential training ground where a generation of important civil rights activists received instruction in promoting equality. In fact, it as a Fellowship House lecture by Dr. Mordecai Johnson on the work of Mahatma Gandhi in November 1950 that had a famously profound effect on young Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In his 1958 book Stride Toward Freedom, Dr. King states that following this "electrifying" lecture, he "left the meeting and bought a half-dozen books on Gandhi's life and work."
The photographs in the present album provide thorough documentation of the farm's buildings and environs, including a couple of images of the farm's sign and a pair of photographs of the large map that stood on the grounds. The infrastructure of the farm is depicted in photos of the farm's "new well," the dining hall, corn crib, barn, chicken pens, the cook house, workshop, boys' dorm, sheep pen, ice house, the "Charles Houston Memorial Grove," picnic cottage, the outhouse, and others. Other photos picture workers "harvesting the weat [sic]," the statue of Dr. Fred Wetzel, and several shots of speakers and small group meetings. Many of the images are well annotated, providing a vital record of the locations within the farm, but most importantly identifying numerous people who attended the farm's activities in the summer of '56. Identified subjects in the album, most notably several African-American people, include Edith Mason of Media, Pennsylvania; Rev. Winkie, "One of the speakers;" Elaine Brown, "Director of Singing City" (the Fellowship House choir); Ruth Gilbert; [name illegible], "Minister of Health and Education of Cambodia" (pictured with a "U.S. State Dept. interpreter"); Marjorie Penny, founder and director of the farm, and Dee Orenstein, business manager, pictured together in a group shot also identifying several other people; the "Mayor of Brown Street;" and others. One of the photographs pictures Judge Hastie, identifying him as "One of the Speakers;" the July 2, 1956 issue of the The Philadelphia Inquirer states that Judge Hastie delivered a lecture on "Integration, 1956" at Fellowship House Farm the previous day. The paper also describes the farm, categorizing it as a "summer training center where educators and youth leaders undergo instruction in human relations aimed at curbing prejudice and racial discrimination." In addition to the farm photographs, a handful picture the compiler's time in Philadelphia, including the "old" and "new" Fellowship House buildings in Philadelphia, as well as an affiliated meeting house in Media, Pennsylvania.
"The third Friends Family Work Camp is about to start on August 1, 1955. The two previous summer work projects have been at Fellowship House Farm, where in the true spirit of experimentation the program has been built up with the special help of Fewllowship House and under the direction of James and Martha Kietzman.... This Family Work Camp is gradually forming into something unique, and the project has this year an element of pioneering in it. In an area where even some Quakers support segregation, families of different backgrounds are coming to sing and play, work and study, worship and discuss - in short, to try to establish a different, a better pattern for themselves and all others to see" - Friends Journal: A Quaker Weekly, July 2, 1955, describing the 1955 Summer season at the Fellowship House Farm).
A tremendous surviving photographic record of an important place in the mid-20th century American peace and non-violence campaign at the heart of the Civil Rights Movement, captured during the years of its peak relevance.