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Ramey Studios Photographers Handbill, Oakland, California, circa 1942, Featuring Image of Dorie Miller, Hero at Pearl Harbor

Folded pamphlet, approx. 5 x 7.5 in., advertising the services of "Ramey Studios Photographers." Berkeley: Tilghman Press, circa 1942-43. Pamphlet identifies the company photographers as the "Largest and Finest in the United States, owned and operated by Negroes." Two locations indicated with one each in Oakland and Berkeley, California. One interior page with selected photographic portraits of Black men, women and children, and text "There is no difficult Subject where RAMEY is concerned, because our Artists know how, both young and old, can be made to appear at their best." Opposite interior page with oval photographic portraits of Black service members and text below "In war and in peace, the name 'RAMEY' has stood for Good Photographs for a quarter of a century." One service member in naval uniform identified in pencil on top of page as "Dorrie Miller / Center photo." 

Doris "Dorie" Miller (1919-1943) was a Messman Third Class in the United States Navy serving aboard the West Virginia on December 7, 1941, when it was struck by nine torpedoes during the attack on Pearl Harbor. He helped move the ship's injured captain Mervyn Bennion and then proceeded to man a Browning .50 caliber anti-aircraft machine gun, despite being untrained on the weapon. Once out of ammunition, Miller helped move injured sailors, commended in the Action Report as "unquestionably saving the lives of people who might otherwise have been lost." Dorie was recognized as one of the "first US heroes of World War II" and was commended in a letter signed by Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox and following campaigning from the All-Southern Negro Youth Conference and the National Negro Congress, President Roosevelt approved the Navy Cross for Miller, which was awarded to him personally by Admiral Nimitz. Miller became the first African American to ever receive the award, the third-highest honor in the US Navy at the time. Miller went on a 1942 war bond tour and was featured on a 1943 Navy recruitment poster. He would go missing in action, presumed killed, during the Battle of Makin on November 20, 1943. Miller is featured in the pamphlet wearing the Navy Cross. It was announced early in 2020 that a future aircraft carrier would be named the USS Doris Miller. Due to be laid down in 2026 and launched in 2029, it will be the first US aircraft carrier not named for a former president. 

African American studio photographers represented an important industry in African American communities as they documented community and culture during a time of segregation and subjugation. This pamphlet is likely from a studio owned by Black photographer Oscar A. Ramey (1895-1976), a Louisiana native who Census records indicate was working as a photographer in the Oakland area by 1920. 

 

Condition:

Minor soil and toning.

Estimate: $400 - $600
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium
$250
12/03/2020

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