As a portraitist, Doris Ulmann was always striving to capture with her camera "a face that has the marks of having lived intensely." The strong features of this hard-working Melungeon woman obviously appealed to her. The difficult life endured by the women of this venerable group of Americans—descendants of mixed marriages between early settlers and Native Americans (in this case probably the original Cherokee inhabitants of Tennessee and the Carolinas)—is illustrated by the primitive washing equipment and echoed in the twisted tree trunk. The image loss at the upper left, which perhaps occurred during a hot summer's drive back to New York, unintentionally reinforces the anxious look of deprivation displayed by this long-isolated young woman. Surprisingly, the print was published with this conspicuous flaw in the 1929 issue of Pictorial Photography in America.

Judith Keller. Doris Ulmann, In Focus: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1996), 48. ©1996, J. Paul Getty Trust.


  • Title: [Laundry Day, North Carolina]
  • Creator: Doris Ulmann
  • Date Created: about 1929
  • Location Created: North Carolina, United States
  • Physical Dimensions: 20.2 × 15.5 cm (7 15/16 × 6 1/8 in.)
  • Type: Print
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Platinum print
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 87.XM.89.73
  • Culture: American
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Creator Display Name: Doris Ulmann (American, 1882 - 1934)
  • Classification: Photographs (Visual Works)

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