Charlotte Maxwell '17

Charlotte Maxwell

Charlotte Maxwell

Working with the Bullard collection was an experience unlike any other I've had at Clark. The opportunity to take the skills and knowledge I've cultivated through my history major and apply them to such a tangible project was incredibly rewarding. When looking through the photographs for the first time, I was immediately drawn to the tiny James Harold Ward. His bright eyes and the surprised look on his face caused me to pause and wonder what exactly was going on behind the camera to draw his attention so fiercely. I imagined his mother or father, or perhaps Bullard himself, making a silly face or dangling a small toy to grab the baby's attention. The actual research process was a treasure hunt. I became extremely invested in the lives of the Ward siblings, tracing them through city directories and following their careers and families. I had the privilege of speaking with Mr. Sterling Ward, James Harold's grandson, who expressed quite powerfully how much meaning the photograph holds for him. This class continually proved the true relevance of history. The work was incredibly important because it all led toward giving voice and representation to a vibrant community of color – recognizing and honoring its history. Throughout the process, I was consistently reminded of the immense responsibility I hold in telling this family's story. The baby boy in the photograph is more than a cute face (though he is one adorable child). He grew up and became a talented jazz musician, a father, and a grandfather, and I owe it to him, as a student of history, to shed light on these many facets of his being. I am beyond thrilled to see this exhibit come to life.


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