M. Marvin Breckinridge Patterson collection, EEPA 1985-009
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
EEPA.1985-009
Creators:
Patterson, M. Marvin Breckinridge
Dates:
1932, circa 1960s-1970s
bulk 1932
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
113 Photographic prints
(0.4 cubic feet)
black and white
8 x 10 in. or smaller
3 Photographs
(1 folder)
color
7 manuscripts (document genre)
(4 folders)
publications
47 contact sheets
(0.2 cubic feet)
black and white
Repository:
The collection measures 0.65 cubic feet, dates from 1932 - circa 1970s, and is primarily comprised of photographs taken by M. Marvin Breckinridge Patterson during her trip with Olivia Stokes Hatch from Capetown, South Africa, to Cairo, Egypt in 1932. The photographs document the peoples of Africa in Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Sudan, Tanganyika (now Tanzania), Uganda, Congo (Democratic Republic) and Zanzibar, including the Baila, San, Shona, Xhosa and Zulu peoples. There are also some publications and contact sheets in the collection.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
This collection includes 113 black and white photographic prints taken by M. Marvin Breckinridge Patterson during her trip with Olivia Stokes Hatch from Capetown, South Africa, to Cairo, Egypt in 1932; 3 color photographic prints taken in 1971 of mbira, pipes, and a sculpture; publications; and contact sheets. Many of the photographs from the 1932 trip were published in
Olivia's African Diary: Cape Town to Cairo
," (Washington, D.C.: Eastern Press, 1980).
The photographs document the peoples of Africa in Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Sudan, Tanganyika (now Tanzania), Uganda, Congo (Democratic Republic) and Zanzibar, including the Baila, San, Shona, Xhosa and Zulu peoples. Subjects include a bride and groom at Lovedale, South Africa; dancers at the Crown Mine near Johannesburg, South Africa; flower vendors in Cape Town, South Africa; two leading elders at Amanzimtoti, South Africa; a craftsman making spears; a tanner in the Sudan; miners with their wives in Katanga (now Shaba), Belgian Congo (now Democratic Republic of the Congo); schoolboys in the Sudan; a Shona man; women lining-up to receive rations in the Belgian Congo; workers pouring gold at the Crown Mine near Johannesburg, South Africa; and a Zulu woman at a market in Durban, Natal, South Africa.
Depicted architecture includes the Queen Hatshepsut's room at Karnak, Luxor, Egypt; and the ruins of Great Zimbabwe. Images of the natural world include a mountain at Cape Town, South Africa; a park in Port Elizabeth, South Africa; and Victoria Falls, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Finally, there are numerous images of animals, including egrets, ostriches and wildebeests.
Photographs from the collection were published in the
Boston Herald
(July 31, 1933) and the
Crown Colonist
(August 1933).

Arrangement note
Arrangement note
Arranged in three series. Series 1 is arranged by country. Series 2 is arranged in chronological order.
  • Series 1: Photographs, 1932, 1971 (Boxes 1-3, 116 items, 0.4 cubic feet)
  • Series 2: Publications, circa 1960s-1970s (Box 3, 4 folders)
  • Series 3: Contact Sheets, 1932 (Box 3, 0.2 cubic feet)

Biographical/Historical note
Biographical/Historical note
Photographer, broadcaster, and filmmaker Mary Marvin Breckinridge Patterson (1905-2002), grandchild of Vice President John Cabell Breckinridge, was a photographer, broadcaster and filmmaker. Following graduation from Vassar College in 1928, Breckinridge worked for the Frontier Nursing Service (a group comprised mainly of women that provided medical services to remote areas in Appalachia), earned a pilot's license (the first woman in Maine to do so), and assisted in the office of the Democratic National Committee. In 1932 she traveled to Africa where she documented the peoples and places throughout the continent.
She enrolled in the Clarence White School of Photography in New York in 1933, taking trainings on photographic developing and printing. She then worked in the office of Democratic congresswoman, and distant relative, Isabella Selmes Greenway, but soon returned to the Clarence White School of Photography for a longer course of study. Following graduation, she began selling photographs and sometimes articles in several magazines, including LIFE, Harper's Bazar, and Town and Country. Her film credits include "She Goes to Vassar" (1931), a film that provides an overview of college life at Vassar, and "The Forgotten Frontier", a documentary about the activities of the Frontier Nursing Service, a group comprised mainly of women that provided medical services to remote areas in Appalachia.
Travelling to Europe in 1939 on photojournalism assignments, Breckinridge was in Switzerland when the Nazis invaded Poland, starting World War II. She traveled to London to photograph the evacuation of English children, one of only four American photographers in England for the first months of the war. Edward Murrow hired her as the first female news broadcaster for the CBS World News Roundup to report from Europe. As the only female member of "The Murrow Boys", an elite group of only eleven broadcasters handpicked by Murrow, she broadcasted 50 reports from seven countries.
While working in Berlin, she married Foreign Service Officer Jefferson Patterson. She resigned from CBS, hoping to resume her career in photojournalism, but State Department policies restricted her ability to publish. The couple was posted in Peru, Belgium, Egypt, the Balkans and Uruguay.

Administration
Processing Information
Hannah Storch created the descriptive information for the photographs, 2019. Photographs from Breckinridge Patterson's 1932 trip (Series 1) were digitized in 2019.
Author
Eden Orelove

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Use
Permission to reproduce images from the Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives must be obtained in advance. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Conditions Governing Access note
Use of original records requires an appointment. Contact Archives staff for more details.
Preferred Citation
M. Marvin Breckinridge Patterson collection, EEPA 1985-009, Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution

Custodial History note
Custodial History note
The collection was donated to the National Museum of African Art by Mary Marvin Breckinridge Patterson in 1985.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Shona (African people) Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
San (African people) Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Zanzibar Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Zulu (African people) Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Xhosa (African people) Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographic prints Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ila (African people) Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Congo (Democratic Republic) Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Africa Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kenya Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Luxor (Egypt) Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sudan Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Tanzania Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Uganda Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Publications Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hatch, Olivia Stokes Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, National Museum of African Art
National Museum of African Art
P.O. Box 37012
MRC 708
Washington, DC 20013-7012
elisofonarchives@si.edu
http://africa.si.edu/collection/eliot-elisofon-photographic-archives/