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For over five decades, the black and white photography of Ellie Weems documented life in the American Black South. His images span the times of The Great Depression, World War II and the ensuing struggle for racial integration.

Born in McDonough, Georgia in 1901, Weems trained at Tuskegee Institute under the founder of the photography department, noted educator and photographer C. M. Battey. After an apprenticeship with a professional photographer, Weems began his career in1922 in a studio on Auburn Avenue in Atlanta. He soon developed a reputation as the peoples' photographer, capturing the life and times in the African-American community. In 1925, he married Willie Mae Morris, a public health nurse. Weems relocated to Jacksonville, Florida in 1930, where he worked for more than fifty years
documenting memorable events from weddings to funerals, honors and awards ceremonies, entertainers and celebrities, family portraits, civic and church groups, performing arts, business and commercial events, Masonic orders and more. When he returned to Atlanta to be with family in his later life, he brought with him his entire archival collection, now considered one of the largest collections that cohesively documents an African - American community.