The Jack Davis
Photograph Collection primarily consists of images of individuals, social and business
groups' activities, and significant personal or social events of the predominantly Black
community of Los Angeles, particularly South Los Angeles, from the 1950s to the 1980s. Jack
Davis, born in Texas in 1920, was a Black professional photographer and teacher who owned
Modern Arts Studio of Photography on Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles. Studio portraits,
churches and social clubs' activities, wedding photography, and the 1969 Watts Summer
Festival are prominently featured. The collection is largely composed of color negatives,
prints, and slides.
Jack Davis was born in 1920 in Waco, Texas to A.J. Davis, a master plumber, and Willie Ann
Davis, a homemaker and traveler. At 18 years old, with 80 cents burning a hole in his
pocket, he hopped a freight train headed west. He bought his first camera in 1940. In 1941,
he began serving in the U.S. Navy as a mess attendant, a role that only allowed him to cook
and wash clothes which was imposed on him and other servicemen of color due to racial
segregation. He eventually married and settled in Los Angeles in the mid-1940s.
Copyright for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of
this collection has been transferred to California State University, Northridge. Copyright
status for other materials 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.
This collection is open for research use.