Luther Hamilton, Sr.
The Luther Hamilton Photograph Collection documents the life of a small southern town during the first half of the twentieth century through images of houses, stores, railroad stations, schools, sports teams, street scenes, parades, weddings, and more. A significant portion of the collection deals with agriculture, especially the farming and marketing of tomatoes and cabbage, and agrarian celebrations such as the annual Crystal Springs Tomato Festival.
The nearly 1,000 photographs were taken or collected by Luther Myles Hamilton, Sr., (1869-1944) of Crystal Springs, Mississippi, and his son, Luther Myles Hamilton, Jr. (1912-1994). Much of the collection is formal portrait photography taken in the father's studio, and includes town leaders Augustus Lotterhos, "the Father of Crystal Springs," and Bryant Wesley Matthis, "the Cabbage King," as well as people of various ages and races.
One of the earliest prints documents a Flag Day Parade in Crystal Springs in 1901. Of special interest are photographs of an African American café and barber shop, church sanctuaries decorated for special religious observances (baptisms, confirmations, Christmas, and Easter), community events such as Tom Thumb weddings, and the rural customs and traditions of the American South prior to World War II. Later snapshots include Franklin D. Roosevelt speaking in Tupelo, Mississippi, in 1934, and scenes from the son's studies at Mississippi State College in Starkville during the late 1930s and 1940s.