Lorenzo Dow Turner – Portfolio

This portfolio includes selected photographs and archives from the Lorenzo Dow Turner papers (Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution), the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, the Anacosta Community Museum, and other public and private institutions and holders.





Portfolio
  • Photo 1
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    Photo 1

    Lorenzo Dow Turner class in elementary school in Rockville, Montgomery County, Maryland, date unknown. Lorenzo Dow Turner is kneeling, second row, sixth from the left with his classmates at his elementary school in Rockville, Montgomery County, Maryland.


    Lorenzo Dow Turner Papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution. Gift of Lois Turner Williams.


  • Photo 2
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    Photo 2

    Gold Medal received by Lorenzo Dow Turner in 1906. In 1906 Lorenzo Dow Turner received a gold medal and 20 gold dollars and was recognized as the best speaker in the African American segregated school system of Montgomery County, Maryland. The medal was, perhaps, the first formal recognition of his towering intellect.


    2010.0007.0005, Anacostia Community Museum, Smithsonian Institution (ACM-acmobj-201000070005)


  • Photo 03
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    Photo 03

    Commonwealth Giants baseball team. Turner played in the baseball team sponsored by the Fall River Steamship Line that owned the Commonwealth passenger liner. He worked as a waiter during summer breaks during the years he attended college at Howard University and pursued his Masters’ Degree at Harvard. Lorenzo Dow Turner is sitting, second row, second from left to right.


    Lorenzo Dow Turner papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution. Gift of Lois Turner Williams


  • Photo 04
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    Photo 04

    Geneva Townes Turner, undated. Turner married Geneva in 1919. Although they eventually divorced, she played an essential part in the beginning of his Gullah research.


    Geneva Townes Turner papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution, gift of Eugene Townes (acma_06-069_01)


  • Photo 05
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    Photo 05

    Lorenzo Dow Turner, 1917. Lorenzo Dow Turner received a Master’s degree in English from Harvard University in 1917.


    Lorenzo Dow Turner Papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution. Gift of Lois Turner Williams.


  • Photo 06
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    Photo 06

    Advertisement Contract for The Washington Sun, 1928. After leaving his position at Howard University in 1928, Dr. Lorenzo Dow Turner briefly tried publishing a newspaper in Washington, DC. The endeavor did not succeed, and Turner soon set his sights back on academia.


    Lorenzo Dow Turner papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution. Gift of Lois Turner Williams.


  • Photo 07
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    Photo 07

    Dr. Lorenzo Dow Turner and members of the African Studies Program at Fisk University, ca. 1943. During his tenure at Fisk, Turner had the distinction in 1943 of participating in establishing the first African Studies program in the United States. Front row left to right: Ebenezer Ako-Adjei (Ghana), Fatima Massaquoi (Liberia), Charles S. Johnson (Sociology professor, United States.) Second row left to right: Lorenzo Dow Turner (English professor, United States), Mark Hanna Watkins (Anthropology professor, United States), Jacob Motsi (South Africa), Edwin Smith (International Institute of African Languages and Cultures, Great Britain.)


    Lorenzo Dow Turner papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution. Gift of Lois Turner Williams.


  • Photo 08
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    Photo 08

    The Turner Family, August 25, 1961. From left to right, Lorenzo, Jr., Dr. Lorenzo Dow Turner, Lois Turner, and Rani Meredith.


    Lorenzo Dow Turner Papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution. Gift of Lois Turner Williams.


  • Photo 09
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    Photo 09

    Auditorium Hotel and Annex, Chicago, Illinois, 1900. In 1946 Turner joined the faculty of Roosevelt College in Chicago. Roosevelt College took over the building previously occupied by the Auditorium Hotel. Turner had worked at the hotel in the summer of 1913 as a waiter in the tenth-floor restaurant, which was now occupied by Roosevelt College’s Library. Turner confessed that he often remembered how he worked serving tables as he strolled into the space as a respected college professor.


    Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division (LC-D401-12620)


  • Photo 10
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    Photo 10

    Turner 100-pound recording machine, Fairchild Recording Instrument, Fairchild Aerial Camera Corporation, ca. 1932. It was transported to the different locations where electricity was available, and the recordings were being made.


    Courtesy Lorenzo Dow Turner Collection, Africana Manuscripts, Melville J. Herskovits Library, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL


  • Photo 11
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    Photo 11

    Acetate disk. This is one of the disks that Turner would have used to record his interviews with the Gullah in the 1930s. The recorder used by Turner consisted of a disc-cutting device that slowly moved a cutting stylus onto the surface of an aluminum disc covered in acetate, producing very precise spiral grooves. It was a record player in reverse. It produced sound recordings that could then be replayed on a phonograph.


    Lorenzo Dow Turner papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution. Gift of Lois Turner Williams (acmobj-200320660004)


  • Photo 12
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    Photo 12

    Page from Dr. Lorenzo Dow Turner’s appointment book. This page from Turner’s appointment book, while researching in the Sea Islands, lists some of his appointments with Gullah informants at Johns Island, Edisto Island, and St. Helena Island, South Carolina.


    Lorenzo Dow Turner papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution. Gift of Lois Turner Williams.


  • Photo 13
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    Photo 13

    Mary Moran and Baindu Jabati singing the Mende funeral song at Senehun Ngola, Sierra Leone. This funeral song, which came from Africa with a Mende enslaved woman ancestor in the 18th century, was passed from generation to generation in Mrs. Moran’s family.


    Courtesy of Herb Frazier, Charleston, South Carolina.


  • Photo 14
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    Photo 14

    Section of the “Word Shout Song” Exhibit, at the Anacostia Community Museum, Smithsonian Institution, told the history of the “Song that Made the Roundtrip to Africa.” The center panel depicts the text of the song in Gullah, as Turner recorded it, and in modern Mende and English. The quilt to the right, named “A Wa Ka” for the Mende funeral song’s first words, was created by quilter Dorothy Montgomery, from Charleston, South Carolina. It records the moment that Mary Moran and Baindu Jabati got together to sing the funeral song at Senehun Ngola, Sierra Leone.


    Anacostia Community Museum, Smithsonian Institution. (041911_DowTurnerExhibit_2)


  • Photo 15
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    Photo 15

    French Colonies Exhibit, Exposition Internationale, 1937, Paris. Turner was allowed to set up an office tent on the grounds of the exhibit. Once African visitors arrived at his door, Turner played for them the recordings he had made in the Sea Islands, hoping that they would recognize some of the words and give him information about the languages’ structure.


    _Wikipedia Commons_


  • Photo 16
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    Photo 16

    “Bilali Diary.” Bilali Mohamed, originally from Timbo in Fouta Djallon, now located in the West African country of Guinea, was captured and sold into enslavement. He lived in Sapelo Island, Georgia, for more than 50 years. He produced the so-called “Biali Diary.” Bilali was the ancestor of two of Turner’s informants.


    Source: Wikimedia Commons_


  • Photo 17
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    Photo 17

    Katie Brown, Sapelo Island, Georgia, 1933. Turner described her as being “quite intelligent, serious, and somewhat reticent.” She stated that Bilali Mohamed and his wife, her maternal grandparents, were born in the Bahamas.


    Lorenzo Dow Turner papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution. Gift of Lois Turner Williams. (acma_PH2003.7064.321)


  • Photo 18
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    Photo 18

    Shadrack Hall, Sapelo Island, Georgia. Shadrack Hall — Uncle Shad — for his relatives and friends, was also a descendant of Bilali Mohamed.


    Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division


  • Photo 19
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    Photo 19

    Lorenzo Dow Turner, 1940-41. This photo was taken in Brazil while Turner was doing research.


    Lorenzo Dow Turner papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution. Gift of Lois Turner Williams. (acma_PH3003.7064.036)


  • Photo 20
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    Photo 20

    Page from Turner’s Notes while Learning Portuguese in Rio de Janeiro in 1940. Always a serious and conscientious student, Turner poured himself into the task of learning this new language as one of his notebooks, with neat rows of conjugated verbs, attests. On this page of his notebook, while learning Portuguese, Turner carefully copied the tense conjugations of the verb “caber” (to fit).


    Lorenzo Dow Turner papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution. Gift of Lois Turner Williams.


  • Photo 21
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    Photo 21

    Invitation received by Lorenzo Dow Turner to attend a ceremony honoring Brazilian President Getulio Vargas in Salvador, Bahia, on October 16, 1940, at the School of Medicine. In early October, 1940 Turner arrived on a boat in Salvador, Bahia coming from Rio de Janeiro. Turner and his colleague E. Franklin Frazier were interviewed on the ship’s deck by the local media, even before disembarking. Turner was invited right away to attend a ceremony at the School of Medicine, where Brazilian President Getulio Vargas received an honorary degree.


    Lorenzo Dow Turner papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution. Gift of Lois Turner Williams.


  • Photo 22
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    Photo 22

    Mãe Valentina Maria dos Anjos Costa (Mãe Runhó) and Mãe Maria Emiliana Piedade dos Reis, Terreiro do Bogum, Salvador Bahia, 1940-41. Mãe Valentina and Mãe Maria Emiliana were leaders of the Terreiro do Bogum (Zoogodô Bogum Malê Rundó). Turner identified them as daughters of parents who had come from Dahomey (today Benin) and who spoke Fongbe fluently. Turner might have worked with them while making notes in his copy of the 1894 dictionary Manuel Dahoméen by Maurice Delafosse.


    Lorenzo Dow Turner papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution. Gift of Lois Turner Williams. (acma_PH2003.7064.115)


  • Photo 23
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    Photo 23

    Mãe Menininha and her followers. Photo taken by Dr. Lorenzo Dow Turner at the Terreiro do Gantois, 1940-41. From left to right standing Hilda of Oxum, Celina of Oxalufan, Carmen, daughter of Mãe Menininha and present-day Iyalorixá of the Gantois, Mãe Menininha, Cleusa oldest daughter of Mãe Menininha and her successor, America of Obaluayê. Kneeling Floripedes of Oxossi and Titia Amor of Obaluayê.


    Lorenzo Dow Turner Papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution. Gift of Lois Turner Williams (acma_PH2002,7064.147)


  • Photo 24
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    Photo 24

    A Baiana carrying the vase (quartinha) of scented water on her head during the Lavagem do Bonfim procession on January 9, 1941. On the occasion of the Lavagem do Bonfim, thousands of persons, mostly clad in white, walk about 5 miles from the Igreja da Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia to Igreja do Nosso Senhor do Bonfim. The baianas – women dressed in traditional outfits – lead the procession carrying vases (quartinhas) containing scented water, which they will use to wash the Bonfim Church’s stairs. The ceremony is a mixture of Candomblé celebration and Christian beliefs. Turner must have participated in the procession and was able to photograph one of the participants.


    Lorenzo Dow Turner papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution. Gift of Lois Turner Williams (acma_PH2003.7064.129)


  • Photo 25
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    Photo 25

    Group of Young Ladies Dressed in Carnival Costumes, Salvador, Bahia, 1941. This group of beauties caught Turner’s eye during Carnival in 1941.


    Lorenzo Dow Turner papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution. Gift of Lois Turner Williams. (acma_PH2003.7064.089)


  • Photo 26
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    Photo 26

    Street vendor with a donkey, Salvador, Bahia, 1940-41. Turner also had a keen eye for the everyday scenes he saw while walking around Salvador’s streets. With his laid-back demeanor, this street vendor must have caught Turner’s eye while walking around the city streets.


    Lorenzo Dow Turner papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution. Gift of Lois Turner Williams (acma_PH2003.7064.091)


  • Photo 27
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    Photo 27

    Omolu vestment acquired in Bahia by Turner. Omolu, also called Obaluayê, is the god of sickness and cure in the pantheon of Orixás in Candomblé. He always appears covered by a vestment made of palm fiber to hide the ravages of smallpox. Raffia was imported from Africa until the Second World War to produce these vestments. Photograph taken when the vestment was exhibited at the Anacostia Community Museum exhibit “Word Shout Song.”


    Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution


  • Photo 28
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    Photo 28

    Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect, first edition, 1949. When Turner identified Gullah words derived from more than thirty African languages from the Niger-Congo family, he proved that enslavement had not completely obliterated Africa’s memory in its victims. Turner’s text was also one of the first steps in the movement that would eventually create the field of African American studies. His work also laid the foundation that inspired Creole Studies in the 1970s, 1980s, and beyond.


    Lorenzo Dow Turner papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution. Gift of Lois Turner Williams (acmobj-299320660001.r1)


  • Photo 29
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    Photo 29

    Recording without electricity. In Africa, Turner again found himself doing his work without the benefit of access to electricity. In this photo, he prepares his recorder in a dark room and surrounded by curious children.


    Lorenzo Dow Turner papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution. Gift of Lois Turner Williams


  • Photo 30
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    Photo 30

    Leaflet Advertising Turner’s Lecture at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Chicago. After returning from Africa in 1951, Turner took every opportunity to present his eyewitness view of Africa to diverse audiences. Turner highlighted his presentations with his recordings, photographs and slides, and vivid narrative, all in the true style of a griot — the traditional West African storyteller — imparting knowledge and entertainment.


    Lorenzo Dow Turner papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution. Gift of Lois Turner Williams.


  • Photo 31
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    Photo 31

    Talking Drum, ca. 1951. The talking drum, acquired in Africa by Turner, was always a favorite item in his lectures. Yoruba audiences can easily understand this drum language. The use of talking drums was forbidden in the United States during the enslavement era because of its ability to “speak” in an unknown language and its potential to incite rebellion.


    Source: 2003.0032.0362, Anacostia Community Museum, Smithsonian Institution (acmobj_200300320362_r1)