Biography of Allen E. Cole

Allen E. Cole (l883-l970) was a professional photographer in the Cleveland, Ohio, African American community. His years of photographing the working and middle-class community in Cleveland produced a collection of some 50,000 negatives at the time of his death; the negatives were acquired in l980 by the Western Reserve Historical Society. The motto of his business, "Somebody, Somewhere, Wants Your Photograph," was used as title for a collection of his photographs published by the society in l980. After graduating from Storer College in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, Cole worked as a waiter, railroad porter, cook, and a real estate businessman. When that business proved to be slower than expected, Cole moved to Cleveland, where he worked as a waiter at the Cleveland Athletic Club, eventually becoming headwaiter, a position he held for ten years. At the Athletic Club, Cole met Joseph Opet, manager of the Frank Moore Studios, who introduced him to photography and hired him as a part-time assistant. After six years, Cole decided to leave the Athletic Club to make his living as a photographer. In 1922, he opened his own studio at his home on East 103rd Street, later moving to 9909 Cedar Road. During the Depression when individual orders declined, he began doing commercial work and commission work for eight white-owned studios. Cole's work earned prizes and praise at state and local exhibitions, and was frequently published in The Call and Post.

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