The Chapel Hill Historical Society


Bayard Wootten:
Trainblazer for Women Photographers in the South

Presentation by Jerry Cotten

Sunday, March 24, 2019 3:00-5:00 PM
Meeting Room B
Chapel Hill Public Library
100 Library Drive
Chapel Hill, NC



Bayard Wootten, perhaps North Carolina's best-known photographer in the first half of the twentieth century, is the subject of a presentation on September 16, by Jerry Cotten, author of Light and Air: The Photography of Bayard Wootten. Wootten embraced an artistic style of photography known as Pictorialism and operated studios in several NC towns, including Chapel Hill (1928-1954). Her landscape images and insightful portraits of Southerners, both black and white, resulted in numerous exhibitions, lectures, and books illustrated with her photographs. Wootten was known for her independence and determination as a woman and as a photographer. Her career was at its peak during the 1930s. Originally published in 1998, Light and Air, The Photography of Bayard Wootten was reprinted by the University of North Carolina Press in 2017 and features striking new scans of the illustrations using the best digital technology.

Jerry Cotten is a native North Carolinian and has lived in Chapel Hill since 1971. He has degrees in American history from N.C. State University and the University of N.C. at Greensboro. He worked in the North Carolina Collection at the UNC Library as Photographic Archivist from 1972 until 2002.


Image: Bayard Wootten from Coast Watch (1979). Photo courtesy of the North Carolina Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill.