The Edward Fletcher Collection - 3D virtual exhibition by Washington DC: City of Interest, City of Change

The Edward Fletcher Collection

Edward “Ed” F. Fletcher (1913-1990) was a resident of DC, a father, a husband, government worker, and a professional freelance photographer whose works appeared in periodicals such the Associated Negro Press (Chicago), The Afro-American (Baltimore), The Pittsburgh Courier, The Chicago Defender, and The New York Amsterdam News. Ed was born in Castleton, Rappahannock County, Virginia and later moved to Thoroughfare, Prince William County, VA.

In high school he played football and was a janitor. His teachers saw his potential and he earned a scholarship to Howard University, around 1931. He had an accident while doing some janitorial repairs and his foot was caught in a wringer/washing machine. He was hospitalized for months at Freedmen’s Hospital, in Washington, DC He lost his scholarship in his freshman year at Howard but continued as manager of the football team. He worked as a switchboard operator and an elevator operator to pay for his room and board at the University. In 1933, he entered the Federal Government Service.

It was during this period Ed became one of the founders of the FotoCraft Club (later renamed FotoCraft Camera Club) in 1937. The Club was an active program at the Anthony Bowen YMCA (also known as the 12th Street “Colored” Y) in NW DC. He also founded the Allied Photographers Association of America in 1946.

Fletcher’s daughter, Pat Fletcher, shared a brief story to illustrate her father’s courage, insight, and understanding of documenting history. She said that when he knew of a planned lynching, especially in his younger days, he would drive to it in order to take photographs. His red hair, gray-blue eyes and pale skin were his cover allowing him travel safely. Those photographs went to an office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Fletcher worked at the Naval Ordnance Laboratory (NOL) from 1953 to 1971, and continued to shoot independent projects throughout the city. At the NOL he was a photographer and later a cinematographer until he retired. He died after a long term illness with AS--ankylosing spondylitis.

In 2018, his collection, which was roughly estimated at 30,000 pieces, was donated to the District of Columbia Public Library by his daughter. It consists of thousands of negatives and prints documenting African American life in DC.

I believe viewers will be enriched by Edward F. Fletcher’s view of the city in this sampling of his donated collection.

Washington DC: City of Interest, City of Change, is a photographic compendium curated from past and present club members and compiled into seven exciting virtual galleries and represents the works of thirty photographers. The goal of the exhibit is to keep our experiences and perspective on history from being lost. Take time and visit all of the galleries in the virtual exhibit and mark your calendars to join us for the upcoming Lecture Series as well.

• The Edward Fletcher Photo Collection: Select Images that Reflect Pride in community and Perseverance and Character

DC Lifestyles: Music, Celebrations, Sports and Festivals

Voices of the People: Politics, Protest and Religion

DC: A Place for Everyone People, Street Life and Culture

A City in Motion: Landscapes and Destinations

Soul of the City:DC Landmarks Around Us

Sankofa: Looking Back to Move Forward

This show runs from February 11, 2021, to March 20, 2021.

more exhibitions of Washington DC: City of Interest, City of Change

Washington DC: City of Interest, City of Change

DC a Place for Everyone: People, Street Life and Culture

permanent exhibition


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