Portrait of E.F. Joseph with a camera, c. 1930. African American Museum and Library at Oakland, Oakland Public Library

Portrait of E.F. Joseph with a camera, c. 1930. African American Museum and Library at Oakland, Oakland Public Library

Born in St. Lucia, Emmanuel Francis Joseph (1900-1979) immigrated to the United States and studied at the American School of Photography in Illinois. After graduating, he moved to Oakland, California in 1924.

Joseph is the first known Black professional photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area. He was a photojournalist, portraitist, and commercial photographer. Joseph documented important historical events and the everyday experiences of Black communities in California. During World War II, Joseph worked as a photographer for the Office of War Information and captured images of iconic people and events, including “Rosie the Riveters” and the Port Chicago disaster. Over the course of his long career, Joseph’s work was featured in publications across the nation including the Oakland Post, The Chicago Defender, and the Pittsburgh Courier.

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