Charles "Teenie" Harris (1908 - 1998)


Well-Known Member
Feb 28, 2009

Born in Pittsburgh, Charles "Teenie" Harris is the youngest son of William A. and Ella Mae "Olga" Taliaferro Harris, owners of the Masio Hotel on Wylie Avenue.

c. 1921
Teenie completes the eighth grade at the Watt School (now the Robert L. Vann School) in the Hill District.

With his brother William “Woogie” Harris (1896–1967), Teenie works as a chauffeur and mechanic until 1938. Woogie also owned the Crystal Barber Shop on Wylie Avenue and was involved in the numbers business.

Teenie marries Ruth M. Butler, and they have a son, Charles A. Harris. The couple separates around 1932.

late 1920s
Teenie becomes a founding member of the Pittsburgh Crawfords, a sandlot baseball team. He plays until 1930 when the Crawfords enter Negro League competition.

Teenie buys his first professional camera with funds supplied by his brother Woogie and begins to photograph local and visiting celebrities for Flash! magazine.

William Harris, Teenie’s father, dies, and the family closes/sells the Masio Hotel.

c. 1936
Teenie works as a freelance photographer for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the country’s largest-circulation Black newspapers.

Teenie is operating a photographic studio in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. He has a listing in the city directory: Harris Studio (Charles T. Harris), 2128 Centre Avenue, “Commercial photographs, portraiture and commercial motion pictures taken and shown.”

c. 1941
Accepts job as staff photographer for the Pittsburgh Courier

Teenie marries Elsa L. Elliott. They have four children: Ira Vann Harris (b. 1944), Lionel L. Harris (b. 1945), Crystal Harris (b. 1951), and Cheryl A. Harris (b. 1953)

Teenie closes the Harris Studio at 2128 Centre Avenue.

The first listing appears in city directories for Teenie as “photographer, Pittsburgh Courier.”

Teenie retires from the Pittsburgh Courier

He signs a management agreement with Dennis Morgan, Pittsburgh artist and entrepreneur. Teenie’s archive is housed at the University of Pittsburgh until 1988. The first public exhibition of Harris photographs in Pittsburgh is organized by Rollo Turner, a professor in the Africana studies department.

Dennis Morgan forms the commercial Pittsburgh Courier Photographic Archive, based on his collection of negatives by Harris and other photographers.

Carnegie Museum of Art purchases 27 vintage Harris prints from the Pittsburgh Courier Photographic Archive for its exhibition “Pittsburgh Revealed” and accepts the gift of approximately 3500 vintage prints. Elsa Harris dies.

Teenie sues Dennis Morgan for noncompliance with their 1986 contract.
Teenie dies on June 12.

The lawsuit is settled, and the archive is turned over to the Harris family.

Spirit of a Community: The Photographs of Charles ‘Teenie’ Harris, a retrospective exhibition of Harris’ work, opens at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art. One Shot. The Photographs of Charles ‘Teenie’ Harris, a book by Stanley Crouch, is published; and the documentary film One Shot: The Life and Work of Teenie Harris premiers. Carnegie Museum of Art purchases the archive and all rights from Harris’ estate.

With support from The Heinz Endowments and the Institute for Museums and Library Services, Carnegie Museum of Art develops plans to preserve the archive, catalog its contents, and make images available on-line through the museum’s website.

Carnegie Museum of Art seeks community assistance identifying Harris’ subjects through The Trolley Station Oral History Center and Documenting Our Past: The Teenie Harris Archive Project, Part One.

Carnegie Museum of Art receives National Endowment for the Humanities grant to catalog and scan approximately 30,000 negatives.

To date, 18,000 negatives have been scanned, and 20,000 negatives have been cataloged. Carnegie Museum of Art launches publicly accessible on-line collection search capability that includes all Teenie Harris negatives with images.

Documenting Our Past: The Teenie Harris Archive Project, Part Two exhibited with a selection of approximately 200 images again seeking information from the Pittsburgh public about Harris’ images


Well-Known Member
Feb 28, 2009

Pittsburgh Arts
October 11, 2009
Charles "Teenie" Harris At The Carnegie Til November 1st

If you have even a passing interest in photography, don't miss this exhibit .
Pathos, humor,beauty, composition. It is all there. Pittsburgher Charles Teenie Harris has become more and more famous in recent years: There is a book of his work titled "One Shot" , a contemporary dance piece by Ronald K. Brown/Evidence that won rave reviews from the New York Times, and an ongoing series of exhibits at the Carnegie. The Carnegie owns most (or all?) of the late Mr. Harris's negatives and is archiving them and identifying those in the iamges as best they can.

I loved this exhibit, which literally led me to tear up. I actually haven't yet looked at the accompanying photos by Pittsburgh area children, but will on my next visit.

Here is the write up from the CMOA website about the exhibit:

"Documenting Our Past: The Teenie Harris Archive Project, Part Three
Through November 1

Forum Gallery

In honor of the 101st birthday of the great chronicler of African American life in Pittsburgh, this exhibition pairs classic photographs by Charles “Teenie” Harris with prize-winning snapshots by children living in Pittsburgh neighborhoods today. Following in the footsteps of the legendary Teenie Harris, these local children have photographed the meaningful people, places, and things in their lives. In keeping with the theme of a child’s vision of Pittsburgh, the Teenie Harris images are selected by his son Charles A. Harris, including scenes of his own childhood. The children’s work is sponsored by the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh and the citywide “Gathering of Peace” antiviolence initiative.

Vintage prints and negatives in the Teenie Harris Archive were acquired with funds provided by the Heinz Family Fund, the Second Century Acquisition Fund, Milton and Nancy Washington, and by gift of the artist and the Harris Estate. General support for museum programs is provided by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The Heinz Endowments, and Allegheny County Regional Asset District. Cataloging and scanning of the Teenie Harris Archive is supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities grant for Preserving and Creating Access to Humanities Collections....

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