[Portrait Study, Probably South Carolina or Louisiana]

Doris Ulmannabout 1929–1931

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

In 1929 Julia Peterkin's novel Scarlet Sister Mary (1928), a depiction of twentieth-century plantation life, won the Pulitzer Prize. About the same time, she began collaborating with Doris Ulmann on a book that was initially to be built around photographs of African American life and customs in areas of the South designated by Peterkin (1880-1961), such as New Orleans, Mobile, and South Carolina. It appears that changes in their relationship caused this work, entitled Roll, Jordan, Roll (1933) (https://primo.getty.edu), to evolve into a collection of Peterkin's writings with scattered illustrations by Ulmann. It is still unclear who selected and sequenced the pictures. Although this study of an adolescent girl was not used in the volume, it seems to represent much of what is said in Peterkin's chapter on the subject of children. She describes this critical time in a child's life: "Twelve is the age of responsibility, when the recording angel in heaven writes a child's name in a book and marks down every sin against it. . . . Under twelve a child is a 'young child,' and if he dies his soul will not fail to reach heaven, but twelve is the deadline age that changes a 'young child' to an 'old child."'

Judith Keller. Doris Ulmann, In Focus: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1996), 52. ©1996, J. Paul Getty Trust.


  • Title: [Portrait Study, Probably South Carolina or Louisiana]
  • Creator: Doris Ulmann
  • Date Created: about 1929–1931
  • Location Created: United States
  • Physical Dimensions: 20.6 × 15.4 cm (8 1/8 × 6 1/16 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.89.81
  • 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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