Historical Family Photos: THE ARTIST

Wins Atlanta University Award—Cecil D. Nelson Jr., talented young Tuskegee Army Air Force Field sergeant, whose landscape in oils, entitled “Tragedy In One Scene,” recently won first place in the Third Annual Exhibition of Negro Artists sponsored by Atlanta University, is shown at work on one of his most recent portraits. A former student at the University of Illinois, Sgt. Nelson is from Champaign, Ill. (Photo by AAF Training Command)

The above press release and photo below is courtesy of The Doleman Black Heritage Museum online archives.

ORIGINAL PHOTO COURTESY:DOLEMAN HERITAGE MUSEUM ARCHIVES
Courtesy: Norfolk Jounal and Guide
Aunt Medora and Mr. Nelson married on July 13, 1945

Mattie Medora Braswell, my late great-aunt and Cecil Dewey Nelson, Jr. were married for a least three years before they parted ways and married again to others. Aunt Medora would go on to become an employee of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and a secretary for the Harrisburg School District. She passed away in 1989. Cecil would go on to finish his art degree at the University of Illinois, move to Milwaukee and start his own advertising firm. He passed away in 1984. The coloratura of their relationship is a mystery for the most part, but the vibrancy of the details in the above news clippings dramatically improves our understanding, which was previously based on sterile vital records.

The greater point here is that we can all use primary sources, such as newspaper articles, and archival material to learn more about our family history. The information that we learn really “paints a picture” to fully flesh out the lives of our ancestors whom we may have never met.

The Genealogy Situation Room

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