Black lives matter. So do black memories, black communities and black day-to-day life. Perhaps an implicit sense of this motivated 11-year-old Laura Fitzpatrick to keep a detailed photo diary of her life in 1930s and 40s Brooklyn that historians say is unprecedented.
Fitzpatrick’s scrapbook of 500 photos dates from 1938 to 1948 and was shot in and around Williamsburg Brooklyn at the height of black migration from the South to the North. Fitzpatrick, whose family came from Alabama when she was 10 years old, meticulously documented her life and that of her community, including names and dates.
Fitzpatrick’s son Dan Evans recalled his mother’s passion in an interview with CNN;
“She took a lot of portraits of individuals and portraits of families. But then sometimes she would just catch people on the street. She lived in a tenement building in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, on a street called Broadway, and they had a low roof. And she turned the rooftop into a photo studio.… My mother took it as a personal mission to become the historian for this time period because no one else had a camera.”
Fitzpatrick maintained her habit of photography her entire life, but never as detailed as the decade she spent documenting her life in Brooklyn. Her photos will appear at the National Museum of African American History & Culture’s Everyday Beauty exhibit.
Go to CNN.com for more of Fitzpatrick’s incredible photo diary.