Jim Crow, Northern Style, by Doug Jones & John Vachon, 1956

In 1956, photographers Doug Jones and John Vachon accompanied Look magazine writer George Leonard to Philadelphia for a story called “Jim Crow, Northern Style: You Never Know What to Expect.” Leonard’s subjects were middle-class, professional African-Americans living in Philadelphia, and their experience with racism, which was more subtle but just as pervasive as in the South.

The first story, photographed by Vachon, was about eight-year-old Douglas Jackson and his parents Lucinda and Wilbur (Jack), his life at a segregated school and his days growing up in a derelict area. He “rarely sees white people.” This story is followed by Doug Jones’ photographs of African Americans in various occupations: tree surgeon Victor Harmon; Dr. Roland Gandy, Jr., surgeon; Charles A. Baker, commissioner of records; Bob Dumas, student; and Edna Thomas, clerk. Leonard’s own editorial followed, with the headlines: “White men who talk integration and act segregation keep the Northern Negro only half free” and “There’s no drawl when the voices say “nigger.”

Look magazine writers and photographers continued the social documentary work of the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and the Office of War Information (OWI). Almost from the start, the Look photography department was run by Arthur Rothstein, one of the first photographers to be hired for the FSA. It was he who brought in FSA alumni John Vachon as Look staff photographer.

Look Magazine, June 26, 1956

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