Guide to the Calvin Hicks Photograph Collection

Special Collections & Archives
University Library
California State University, Northridge
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA 91330-8326
Business Number: 818-677-4594


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Contributing Institution: Special Collections & Archives
Title: Calvin Hicks Photograph Collection
Creator: Hicks, Calvin (1941-2012)
Identifier/Call Number: TBC.CAH
Physical Description: 2.77 linear feet
Date (inclusive): 1970-2001
Abstract: Calvin Hicks was an African American photographer who lived in Los Angeles from 1968 to his death in 2012. He participated in several exhibit spaces and photography groups dedicated to the area's African American photographers, such as the Black Gallery and the Black Photographers of California. This collection covers the time period from 1970 to 2001. Materials include negatives, contact sheets, prints, slides, correspondence, and ephemera. Hicks' studio portraits, scenes from Venice Beach, and public event coverage feature prominently in this collection.
Language of Material: English.

Biographical / Historical

Calvin Hicks was born in West Virginia in 1941. He received a Bachelor of Science in Art Education from West Virginia State College in 1965. In 1968, he moved with his wife, Linda McCormick, and his two daughters to Los Angeles, where he began his 40-year career as a county probation officer. Having learned photography early in life, he continued his own art education in Los Angeles by attending classes at Inner City Cultural Center, Los Angeles Trade Technical College, and Otis Parson Art Institute (Otis College of Art and Design).
Pursuing photography in his free time, Calvin Hicks became an important local photographer and mentor who co-founded a number of exhibit spaces and photography groups dedicated to local African American photographers, such as the Visionist Gallery in downtown Los Angeles, the Black Gallery in Crenshaw, and the Black Photographers of California. He was a member of the Bunker Hill Arts League and exhibited alongside other notable photographers such as Donald Bernard, Roland Charles, and Willie Middlebrook. He is commonly described as a fine-art photographer, and he captured a variety of subjects, including portraits, jazz festivals, and Venice Beach.
Hick's images are featured in a number of publications, such as the following: Reflections In Black: A History of Black Photographers, 1840 to Present by Deborah Willis; Typing In the Dark poetry collection by S. Pearl Sharp; and Identity and Affirmation: Post War African American Photography, published by California State University's Institute of Media and Arts. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and ZYZZYVA. A significant exhibit for Hicks and his vision was Life In A Day of Black L.A.: The Way We See, arranged by UCLA's Center for African American Studies and the Black Photographers of California, because it focused exclusively on West Coast Black photographers.
Hicks married his second wife, Joyce Elaine Hicks, in 2006 and retired from the county in 2008. After a long battle with cancer, he died in 2012.

Scope and Contents

The Calvin Hicks Photograph Collection consists of more than 3,000 images. Materials include 35mm negatives (most black-and-white), 120mm negatives, contact sheets, prints, slides, correspondence, and ephemera. Negatives make up the majority of the collection. Many negatives are paired with their matching contact sheet. Hicks' studio portraits, scenes from Venice Beach, and public events coverage feature prominently in this collection. A majority of images were created in Los Angeles. Bulk dates are from 1970 to 2000.
The collection is arranged into seven series: Events and Places (1971-1999), Buildings (1988), Portraits (1983-1999), Fine-Art Photography (1970-1996), Festivals and Musicians (1995-1999), Political Figures (1996—1998), and Correspondence and Ephemera (2001).
Series I, Events and Places, showcases a sample of Hick's documentary photographs, such as small art exhibits, Venice Beach, and significant personal and public events.
Series II, Buildings, includes images of the Crenshaw Plaza construction and the home of Calvin Hicks.
Series III, Portraits, is the largest series. It consists of portraits of named or unidentified individuals, groups, families, couples, and weddings.
Series IV, Fine-Art Photography, contains more artistic renderings of the human body nude and/or in various poses and of objects.
Series V, Festivals and Musicians, captures several festivals (mostly jazz) in the Los Angeles area and images of musicians performing or attending events.
Series VI, Political Figures, includes images of African American politicians who served in California. The images are of a few events they attended during the 1990s.
Series VII, Correspondence and Ephemera, is the smallest collection. There are only two items in this series.
Regarding conservation, paper marks, burn marks, and sticking issues were found on a few materials upon arrival. This damage was likely caused by a house fire that had occurred at Calvin Hick's residence. As for identifiers, most materials are marked with an alphanumerical unique identifier on top of a sheet or on the back of a print. The Tom and Ethel Bradley Center created this identification for internal reference.
Collection folders are arranged alphabetically by title. Series are generally arranged chronologically, though not strictly due to additions made later.


Series I: Events and Places, 1971-1999
Series II: Buildings, 1988
Series III: Portraits, 1983-1999
Series IV: Fine-Art Photography, 1970-1996
Series V: Festivals and Musicians, 1995-1999
Series VI: Political Figures, 1996-1998
Series VII: Correspondence and Ephemera, 2001

Related Materials

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for materials in this collection is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Preferred Citation

For information about citing items in this collection, consult the appropriate style manual, or see the Citing Archival Materials  guide.

Processing Information

Elizabeth Peattie, 2022, 2023, 2024

Subjects and Indexing Terms



Series I: Events and Places, 1971-1999

Box 1, Folder 1

[Beach], undated

Box 1, Folder 2

Beckly Exhibition Coal Mine, undated

Box 1, Folder 3

Exhibits, undated

Box 1, Folder 4

Exhibits and Shows, 1994

Box 1, Folder 5

Exhibits and Shows, Book Show, 1993 March 25

Box 1, Folder 6

Exhibits and Shows, MEEDS Photo Exhibit, 1988

Box 1, Folder 7

Exhibits and Shows, Miriam Fergenson Doll Show, 1999 December

Box 1, Folder 8

Exhibits and Shows, Pat Hayes, 1982

Box 1, Folder 9

Funeral Procession, 1999 December 14

Box 1, Folder 10

Holidays, undated

Box 1, Folder 11

[Parties], undated

Box 1, Folder 12

Trial Verdict Day, O.J. Simpson, 1995 October 3

Box 1, Folder 13

[Unknown], undated

Box 1, Folder 14

Venice, 1971-1984

Box 1, Folder 15

Venice, undated

Box 1, Folder 16

Venice and MacArthur Park, 1975-1984

Box 1, Folder 17

Venice, Pyramids, 1974-1983


Series II: Buildings, 1988

Box 1, Folder 18

[Construction], undated

Box 1, Folder 19

Crenshaw Plaza Construction, 1988

Box 1, Folder 20

House, Calvin Hicks, undated

Box 1, Folder 21

[Interior and Individual Sleeping], undated


Series III: Portraits, 1983-1999

Box 2, Folder 1

Couples, undated

Box 2, Folder 2

Families, 1993-1999

Box 2, Folder 3

Families, Pat Pope Jordan, 1989 September 3

Box 2, Folder 4

Groups, 1993

Box 2, Folder 5

Groups, Centinela Clerical Staff, 1999 October 13

Box 2, Folder 6

Individuals, 1992-1997

Box 2, Folder 7

Individuals, Ahman, 1996 April 12

Box 2, Folder 8

Individuals, Alex Daye, 1993 September 7

Box 2, Folder 9

Individuals and Groups, undated

Box 2, Folder 10

Individuals, Calvin Hicks, undated

Box 2, Folder 11

Individuals, Dr. Bruce Harris, 1993 December 6

Box 2, Folder 12

Individuals, Elizabeth Abubacar, 1994

Box 2, Folder 13

Individuals, Fran, 1993 March 25

Box 2, Folder 14

Individuals, Kathy Y. and Lisa (Punk), Venice, 1983

Box 2, Folder 15

Individuals, Leila and Friends, 1992 February 14

Box 2, Folder 16

Individuals, Leshaun, 1995 August 25

Box 2, Folder 17

Individuals, Mary C., 1996

Box 2, Folder 18

Individuals, Sue Carruthers, 1990 June 14

Box 2, Folder 19

Individuals, Theda Giles, 1990 May

Box 2, Folder 20

Individuals, Theressa, Tanya, and Denise, 1995 January 28

Box 4, Folder 1

Large Prints and Contact Sheets, undated

Box 2, Folder 21

Slides, 1993-1996

Box 2, Folder 22

Weddings, June Galipeau, 1996


Series IV: Fine-Art Photography, 1970-1996

Box 3, Folder 1

Buffalo Skull, "Synthesis", and Airplane, 1970-1981

Box 3, Folder 2

Conceptual, "Untitled", Venice Beach and Couple, 1979

Folder 1, Folder 1

Figure Studies, undated

Folder 1, Item 1

Figure Study, undated

Box 3, Folder 3

[Garlic], undated

Box 4, Folder 2

Large Prints and Contact Sheets, undated

Box 3, Folder 4

Nudes, 1972-1980

Box 3, Folder 5

Nudes, 1996

Box 3, Folder 6

Oye, Janice, Venice Beach, ca. 1978

Box 3, Folder 7

Poses, Fran Smith, 1990

Folder 1, Folder 2

[Woman and Sand Pyramids], undated


Series V: Festivals and Musicians, 1995-1999

Folder 1, Folder 3

Festival, undated

Box 3, Folder 8

Festivals, undated

Box 3, Folder 9

Festivals, Jazz at Drew, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, 1996-1997

Box 3, Folder 10

Festivals, Leimert Park, 1997-1998

Box 3, Folder 11

Festivals, Let the Good Times Roll, Louisiana to L.A. Mardi Gras, 1995 May 13

Box 3, Folder 12

Festivals, Simon Rodia Watts Towers Jazz Festival, 1996 October

Box 4, Folder 3

Large Prints , undated

Box 3, Folder 13

Musicians, Patti LaBelle, 1996

Box 3, Folder 14

[Performances], undated


Series VI: Political Figures, 1996-1998

Box 3, Folder 15

Burke, Yvonne Brathwaite, High Top, 1996 June

Box 3, Folder 16

Vincent, Edward Jr., 1996-1998


Series VII: Correspondence and Ephemera, 2001

Box 3, Folder 17

Correspondence and Ephemera, 2001