TABLE OF CONTENTS


Overview of the Collection

Biographical Note

Scope and Contents

Restrictions

Related Material

Administrative Information

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Photographs

Finding Aid to the Israel Wright Photographs



Overview of the Collection

Repository: Leather Archives & Museum
Creator: Israel Wright
Title: Israel Wright Photographs
Dates: 1989-2008, n.d.
Quantity: .8 linear feet
Identification: PERS0042
Language: The records are in English.

Biographical Note

Israel Wright is a photographer who has been documenting the Chicago LGBTQ community since the 1990s. His focuses include African-Americans, leather lifestyle, and persons with HIV AIDS through portraits, event photography, and photojournalism. For more than 35 years, he has been actively involved in volunteering with African-American, AIDS, cultural, and social service organizations throughout Chicago.

After moving to Chicago from Ohio in 1975, Wright began a career in banking and volunteered with various organizations in his new city. His first step into volunteering began at Horizons Community Services, now called Center on Halsted, the Midwest’s largest LGBTQ social service organization. Through a Horizons focus group, he was introduced to members of various organizations for people of color. He then began meeting with and participating in organizations such as Chicago Black Lesbians and Gays, the Kupona Network, Team Chicago, and the Greater Chicago Committee. While Wright was busy being involved on various boards and committees, photography remained just a hobby.

After being interviewed for winning the Greater Chicago Committee’s 1997 Male of the Year award, Lambda Publications took notice of Wright’s photographs and asked him to submit some of his work. He agreed and was then asked to be on the editorial board for Lambda Publication’s new magazine Blacklines, which strived to give gay and lesbian African American readers materials contributed predominantly by, for, and about African Americans. The magazine needed a photographer to cover events, and since was retiring, he volunteered. He would then go on to form Israel Wright Photographs, Inc. in 1998.

Wright’s photographs have been published nationally and internationally, and exhibited at museums and in community spaces in Chicago. As a leatherman, he has covered leather events such as International Mr. Leather, the Mid Atlantic Leather contest in Washington, D.C., the Cell Block Leatherman and Mr. Ebony Leather contests in Chicago, and the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco. In Chicago, he often volunteers photography services to non profits including the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame and the Human Rights Campaign. He also covers community events in Chicago such as Market Days, the Bud Billiken Parade, the Pride Parade, and President Obama’s victory celebration in Grant Park. He has contributed to book projects including The Faces of AIDS and The Journey.

Wright has been an activist for LGBTQ issues since moving to Chicago. Wright is a former member of ONYX’s Midwest chapter. ONYX is the longest existing leather club for people of color. Notably, he was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 2000. He was a photographer at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago gala in 2003. Wright was also involved in bringing the Gay Games to Chicago in 2006.

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Scope and Contents

This is the finding aid for the Israel Wright Collection’s Photography series only. Once the remainder of the collection is processed, this finding aid will be updated as needed and incorporated into the overall collection’s finding aid.

Items included in the Israel Wright Collection’s Photograph series include physical photographs, hard disks, pocket CD-R disks, and a zip disk. The series spans from 1989-2008, but the vast majority of materials are not dated.

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Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

None

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Related Material

  • Cell Block Chicago, Vertical File Collection, Leather Archives & Museum, Chicago, Illinois.

  • Mid Atlantic Leather Weekend, Vertical File Collection, Leather Archives & Museum, Chicago, Illinois.

  • Lambda Publications, Vertical File Collection, Leather Archives & Museum, Chicago, Illinois.

  • ONYX, Vertical File Collection, Leather Archives & Museum, Chicago, Illinois.

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Administrative Information

Processing Information

The Leather Archives & Museum reached out to Israel Wright when they received a grant for the funding of The Cook County Leather Persons of Color Project in 2015. Items collected included physical photographs, hard disks, pocket CD-R disks, and a zip disk.

In order to fulfill the needs of the grant’s exhibit and due to the schedule of the exhibit, it was the decision of the processor to organize the physical photographs first. The items were sorted into various categories based on confirmed event, organization, or other identifiers. Then following the direction of the exhibit’s curator, the processor selected items to scan. The scanned items were given file names and data according to the following standards:

Physical photographs:

  • Prefix – iwp_ (Israel Wright Photographs and underscore)

  • Next element – pers0042 (the collection’s LA&M Collection Number)

  • Suffix – .001, .002, .003, etc. (the number of scanning order)

Example of complete object identifier for a photograph – iwp_pers0042.001
Recording basic metadata for scanned images:
Recorded in the “Properties” of the photograph file
Tag: LPOCP
This is the hashtag (pound symbol) previously used on LA&M’s Twitter
Dates: specify as much as is known
Comments: specify known events, people, places

Only items with the potential of being chosen for the grant’s exhibit have been scanned and given file names at this point. Each category in the collection has a labeled divider in the photo boxes in which the collection is housed. Along with the category name, it is also denoted if the section’s items have been scanned thus far and includes any assigned items numbers. All scanned categories are filed before those that have not been scanned. Categories are filed in alphabetical order.

The content of hard disks has been saved to LA&M’s server. Disks have been saved under the information written on their labels. They have been sorted in subseries and arranged alphabetically in Digital Images Box #1. If content has not yet been saved to LAM’s server, it has been noted below. The one zip disk being house in Digital Images Box 1 has not yet been opened, but was kept with the collection because it potentially contains International Mr. Leather photographs.

Pocket CD-R disks have not yet been opened. The disks that were kept with the collection were done so because they have the potential of containing images that are pertinent to LA&M’s collection. As the remainder of the collection is processed, files on these disks will be opened and disks will be kept if pertinent. The remainder of the hard disks will also be saved to LA&M’s image server at that point.

Metal staples have been removed from a calendar. Loose mounting covers were removed from a portion of the mounted photographs. The photographs in the Bears Like Us folder were removed from their original frames.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Photographs
The Photographs subseries contains a variety of formats physical photographs of various sizes, some mounted, but mostly loose; hard disks; pocket CD-R disks; and a zip disk. The vast majority of images were taken by Israel Wright, but some were taken by other photographers and some were given to Wright. The images were taken at various Leather events or contests, LGBT parades and events, or are shots of members of the Leather community at get-togethers or in professional photo shoots. While the bulk of photographs were taken in the late 1990s, exact dates are unknown for many.

Most of the images were taken at events in and around Cook County, Illinois, but some were taken outside the community. For example, there are photographs from the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco, California and at an event at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. As a former member of ONYX, Wright photographed many ONYX events and members so a portion of the Photographs subseries features the club. There are many photographs throughout the subseries in which Wright himself is pictured.

Box
1 Bear Pride Chicago (scanned) – iwp_pers0042.268-288, 325
Cell Block Leatherman 1998 (scanned) – iwp_pers0042.040-051, 247-248, 255, 295-309
Cell Block, Unknown Competitions (scanned) – iwp_pers0042.250, 254, 312-324
International Mr. Leather 1996 (scanned) – iwp_pers0042.089-090
International Mr. Leather 1998 (scanned) – iwp_pers0042.096-100, 260
International Mr. Leather 1999 (scanned) – iwp_pers0042.101-133, 164-165
International Mr. Leather 2000 (scanned) – iwp_pers0442.134
International Mr. Leather, Unknown Years (scanned) – iwp_pers0042.135-154, 259, 261, 294
Market Days (scanned) – iwp_pers0042.239-244
Mr. Chicago Leather 1999 (scanned) – iwp_pers0042.155-159
Mr. Ebony Leather (scanned) – iwp_pers0042.068-089, 166-179, 251-253, 257-258, 310-311
Mr. Ebony Leather 2000 (scanned) – iwp_pers0042.241-253, 257-258, 310-311
ONYX (scanned) – iwp_pers0042.0013-039, 245, 249, 256
Professional Shots (scanned) – iwp_pers0042.180-238, 246
Unknown Competitions (scanned) – iwp_pers0042.262-267, 289-293, 326-329
Cell Block, Unknown Competition (not scanned)
Cole Tucker 1997 (not scanned)
Folsom Street Fair 1997 (not scanned)
Great Lakes Brotherhood of Boys Competition (not scanned)
International Mr. Bootblack 1997 (not scanned)
International Mr. Bootblack, Unknown Year (not scanned)
International Mr. Drummer 1997 (not scanned)
International Mr. Drummer 1998 (not scanned)
International Mr. Leather, Unknown Years (not scanned)
Leather Cocktails (not scanned)
Mid-American Leather Contest
Mr. 501 Tavern (not scanned)
Mr. International Rubber (not scanned)
Park West Halloween (not scanned)
Professional Shots (not scanned)
Box
2 Unknown Parades (not scanned)
Unknown Parties or Events (not scanned)
Vern Hester (not scanned)
Wayne State Event (not scanned)
Digital Images box
1 ONYX
Leather Bars
General Events and People
IML/Rubber – only the first disk in this subseries has been uploaded to our image server; contains one zip disk
Digital Images box
2 Pocket CD-R box #1 – starting with “Biology Bar, Gentry, Baton” disk
Digital Images box
3 Pocket CD-R box #2 – starting with “International Mr. Leather” disk
Oversized Box
1 Calendars – 14-month 1998-1999 ONYX draft; January-March 2008 Israel Wright Photos
Loose photographs
Bears Like Us photograph set
Mounted photographs – five photographs on original mounting