The Gladys Knight Harris Papers document Harris's personal interest in domestic science, household affairs, child rearing,
or what could be characterized as "women's work" in a harsh, unspoiled environment.
Gladys Knight Harris was born in 1892 in Gualala, Mendocino County, California. Ms. Harris started college in 1919 and graduated
with a BA and later an MA in Home Economics in the 1920's. She married in 1920 and became a teacher but stayed at home with
her two sons until she was widowed and had to return to work in 1928. She continued to teach in high schools and community
colleges until the early 1940’s and attended Pomona City College to study nutrition.
When Harris retired, she enrolled in Frank Wiggins Trade School in Los Angeles to learn photography, a career that her son
Knight Harris pursued. She borrowed equipment from her son and studied for two years. During her stay in Alaska from 1946-1949,
she used the following cameras: 4x5 Speed Graphic, 2 ¼ Rolleiflex, 35mm Contax, and Bell and Howell movie camera.
Harris left for Alaska in 1946 intending to work and stay as long as she needed to document the Eskimo way of life. She stayed
in Anchorage from 1947-1948, working at Fort Richardson, staying in the BJL barracks, Juneau, and moving there in 1948.
After researching alternative locations, such as Nome, Alaska, and taking advice from friends, in 1949 she was able to make
arrangements to stay in a room attached to Archie Ferguson’s store in Kotzebue, above the Arctic Circle. She arrived on April
24 1949 and left in August 1949. Her contemporary, the anthropologist Frederica de Laguna was working in Yakutat in 1949,
documenting women engaged in subsistence economy activities.
Harris's son, Knight Harris, told Molly Lee that she was preparing to make slide show presentations of the work, There is
a newspaper clipping that mentions a slide show, scheduled for her return, and notes to the Kodak company referring to images
needed for a presentation shortly after her return in 1949.
She returned to Los Angeles in 1949 and lived until the 1970s.
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