Likely St. Thomas

Joanna Colcord Collection
Gift of Nina Colcord

Many of Colcord’s photographs from her time in the Virgin Islands demonstrate a need for improved conditions in areas that were often impoverished as well as some of the desired outcomes of Red Cross interventions, including health education, medical examinations, nursing programs in local schools, and the establishment of libraries. Having spent so much of her youth traveling the world, Colcord had an inherent interest in cultures and the living and working conditions of those she encountered in her travels. This photograph of women and children of African descent, who have paused in their work of cleaning fish to look into Colcord’s lens, provides a glimpse into impoverished living conditions in St. Thomas, as well as a pride in appearance—note the spotless white dresses and aprons. Whether or not Colcord used her camera in the years between her 1899-1901 voyages and this series from 1920/1921, it is clear she retained her talent for composition.