Black Women in Photography // Elizabeth “Tex” Williams

Elizabeth “Tex” Williams’ career began when she applied for an assistant’s job at Stanley Reddick Art Studio in Houston. Elizabeth, also known as “Tex”, learned the basics of photography and later purchased her own Kodak camera. This is only the beginning of her photography career.

After her father signed her up for the Women’s Army Corps, Elizabeth became an official army photographer. She was sent to basic training at Fort Des Moines in Iowa, which was an army base only for black people. Since there were no photo training classes there for black WACs, she was later sent to Fort Huachuca in Arizona, where she became a photographer and lab assistant. She photographed air maneuvers and defense intelligence photos. (1,2)

Elizabeth said, “Sometimes the camera is something you could hide behind in dealing with difficult situations and through the camera you can express yourself and how you feel. Difficulties strengthen the mind just as labor does the body.” (2)

Most of the photography schools did not admit black people, but Elizabeth managed to become the first woman and first black person to graduate from the Photographic Division School in New Jersey. Elizabeth’s contribution to photography allowed her to become a documentarian for Black military women and has helped current Black women to succeed in their photographic journey. (3)

Thank you, Elizabeth “Tex” Williams, for giving black women a voice in the Women’s Army Corps. We salute you.

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1.National Museum of African American History and Culture
2.Viewfinders: Black Women Photographers
3.Silent Witnesses: Representations of Working-class Women in the United States