Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Howard Morehead photographs and papers PASC-M.0142
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (160.26 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions on Access
  • Conditions on Use and Reproduction
  • Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
  • Preferred Citation
  • UCLA Catalog Record ID
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement

  • Title: Howard Morehead photographs and papers
    Identifier/Call Number: PASC-M.0142
    Contributing Institution: UCLA Library Special Collections
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 10.8 linear feet (12 boxes, 4 shoe boxes, 6 flat boxes, 3 oversize flat boxes)
    Date: circa 1940-2002
    Abstract: Howard Morehead was a photographer, broadcast news cameraman, and impresario. A native of Topeka, Kansas, he moved to Los Angeles after World War II and joined the staff of the Los Angeles Sentinel and did freelance work for a number of magazines. He also founded the Miss Bronze California beauty pageant as a reaction to the systematic discrimination faced by African American women. The collection consists predominantly of photographs of musicians and venues documenting the Los Angeles jazz scene from the mid-1950s through the 1990s. There are also a number of actors and politicians represented. There is a very large amount of glamour photography featuring models and beauty pageant contestants. Some personal and business papers are also present, as well as books, videotapes, and sound recordings from Morehead's personal collection.
    Physical Location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.
    Creator: Morehead, Howard 1926-2003

    Conditions on Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Library Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Conditions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to UCLA Library Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

    COLLECTION CONTAINS DIGITAL MATERIALS: Special equipment or further processing may be required for viewing. To access digital materials you must notify the reference desk in advance of your visit.
    COLLECTION CONTAINS AUDIOVISUAL MATERIALS: Audiovisual materials in this collection will require assessment and possible digitization for safe access. To review these audiovisual materials you must notify the reference desk in advance of your visit.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Howard Morehead Photographs and Papers (Collection PASC-M 142). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 5331551 

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Howard Morehead, 2003.


    Howard Morehead was born in Topeka, Kansas in 1926. After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and was assigned to Tuskegee Army Airfield, where he began training as a pilot in anticipation of joining the pioneering Tuskegee Airmen. The war ended before he saw combat, and after his discharge from the military he moved to Los Angeles.
    After earning a degree in photography from Los Angeles City College, he joined the staff of the Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper in 1950, and also freelanced for various magazines. Eventually he became the first West Coast staff photographer for Johnson Publishing Company, contributing stories and covers for Ebony and Jet. A fan of jazz music, Morehead photographed many of the important musicians of his time, as well as many actors and politicians.
    His interest in glamour photography and his awareness of racial discrimination inspired him to found the Miss Bronze L.A. beauty contest in 1958, which soon expanded into the Miss Bronze California pageant, affording African American women the opportunity to compete. In 1970, Morehead became the first African American hired as a staff cameraman for a Los Angeles television station when he began working for KTLA. After a year, he moved to KABC, where he spent seventeen years as a cameraman before retiring.
    Morehead continued to document the Los Angeles jazz scene throughout the 1990s. He died in July, 2003.

    Scope and Content

    The collection predominantly consists of photographs taken by Morehead, mostly of musicians and venues in Los Angeles from the mid-1950s through the 1990s. Subjects include Ray Charles, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, and many others. There are also a number of actors and politicians represented, including Diahann Carroll, Redd Foxx, John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Many of the most important photographs from Morehead's early career exist only as a single image. For instance, there is one photograph of Dexter Gordon that Morehead clearly favored and replicated numerous times in different contexts. But there is no negative of that photograph and no other images from the photo session.
    There are, however, voluminous examples of glamour photography, with thousands of negatives of would-be models and actresses posing in attitudes ranging from chaste portraiture to provocative nudity. Many of these photographs were related to the beauty contests organized by Morehead.
    The collection also includes some personal and business papers, as well as books, videotapes, and sound recordings from his personal collection. Of particular interest in the papers is Morehead's correspondence with Playboy, which repeatedly rebuffed his attempts to sell photographs of women of color to the magazine. Also noteworthy are documents pertaining to Morehead's employment at KABC-TV, where he was reprimanded numerous times over the years, eventually prompting him to file a racial-discrimination lawsuit.

    Organization and Arrangement

    The collection is organized into the following series:
    • Series 1. Photographs
    • Series 2. Business and personal papers
    • Series 3. Video cassettes
    • Series 4. Sound recordings
    • Series 5. Scrapbooks
    • Series 6. Books

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Morehead, Howard 1926-2003 -- Archives
    Beauty contests
    Glamour photography
    Jazz--California--Los Angeles.