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[Pics] 11-Year-Old Laura Fitzpatrick Kept a Detailed Photo Diary of Her Life… in 1938 Brooklyn

• Mar 25, 2017

Black lives matter. So do black memories, black communities and black day-to-day life. Perhaps an implicit sense of this motivated 11-year-old Laura Fitzpatrick to keep a detailed photo diary of her life in 1930s and 40s Brooklyn that historians say is unprecedented.

Fitzpatrick’s scrapbook of 500 photos dates from 1938 to 1948 and was shot in and around Williamsburg Brooklyn at the height of black migration from the South to the North. Fitzpatrick, whose family came from Alabama when she was 10 years old, meticulously documented her community, including names and dates.

Fitzpatrick’s son Dan Evans recalled his mother’s passion in an interview with CNN;

She took a lot of portraits of individuals and portraits of families. But then sometimes she would just catch people on the street. She lived in a tenement building in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, on a street called Broadway, and they had a low roof. And she turned the rooftop into a photo studio.… My mother took it as a personal mission to become the historian for this time period because no one else had a camera.”

Fitzpatrick maintained her habit of photography her entire life, but never as detailed as the decade she spent documenting her life in Brooklyn. Her photos will appear at the National Museum of African American History & Culture’s Everyday Beauty exhibit.

16-year-old Laura Fitzpatrick in Brooklyn New York in the early 1940s

Laura Fitzpatrick’s mother, Elizabeth Fitzpatrick, stands at the right in this photo.

A friend of Fitzpatrick’s in front of a building in Riverside Park in Harlem.

Fitzpatrick’s friend, Lula, swims at Coney Island in 1945.

Fitzpatrick’s friends pose near a lamp shop.

Go to for more of Fitzpatrick’s incredible photo diary.

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8 Comments on "[Pics] 11-Year-Old Laura Fitzpatrick Kept a Detailed Photo Diary of Her Life… in 1938 Brooklyn"

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Nice nostalgic pictures!


I wish more young people would do this TODAY. Contrary to what we’re taught, each of us is unique and, as such, has a unique view on what life is like. Also, much of the creative process is fed by simple observation. It has never ceased to amaze me when people tell me, “I don’t know what to write about.” I’m always saying: “Look outside your window!”


I LOVE that this young sista had the vision to capture us in our beautiful, everyday selves. It calls to mind the pics I curated on my “Black, Vintage & Beautiful” board ( We were NOT downtrodden as many would believe–in the midst of challenges, we were/are STILL FABULOUS!


I shoot 35 mm film, and this is inspiring 🙂


This is so inspiring. I’m learning how to use a camera, and I intend to document the changing and dying communities here in Memphis and all over. Being able to document your story through the visual arts is so important because you get to control how it is seen.


Hope this is turned into a book

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