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Hampton Roads Heritage Project

About this collection

Photo Craftsmen was a Norfolk commercial photography company started by Jim Barry in 1946.  Barry owned the company until his death in 1976 when employee Len Rothman purchased the company. Rothman changed the company name to Len Rothman Photography in the late 1990s and later closed the company in the early 2000s. 

 

The collection contains approximately 15,000 photographic negatives (black & white and color, in various formats) and rolled aerial photographic negatives.  The geographical scope of the collection is primarily Virginia’s greater Hampton Roads region but there are images taken between New Jersey and Georgia.

 

This collection offers a rich photographic record of the Hampton Roads region. The negatives and prints cover a wide range of subjects, including historic buildings and residential developments, major construction and infrastructure projects, industrial sites, street and harbor scenes, and more intimate scenes of weddings and social events. Notably, about half of the collection consists of aerial photographs (both vertical and oblique), which extensively document the development of area cities and county lands after World War Two.

 

Most of the company’s photographs from the 1940s and early 1950s focus on scenes around downtown Norfolk and industrial sites along the Elizabeth River. By the mid-1950s, the photographs begin to document the sweeping redevelopment of urban residential areas in local cities, as well as the rise of residential and commercial areas in the former Norfolk and Princess Anne counties. Photographs through the 1960s continue to record this suburbanization, and also detail major transportation projects across the region, such as new highways and tunnels. By the later 1960s, the collection increasingly includes private photographic work, such as weddings, portraiture, and photographs for use in legal actions. Throughout the years, the collection is leavened by images of the everyday life—beach scenes, sailboat races, business openings, sporting events—that help capture a sense of mid-century Tidewater Virginia.

 

Visit the collection's finding aid at http://smcarchives.libraryhost.com.

 
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