Skip to main content

Past Exhibitions

Photographs by Hugh Morton: An Uncommon Retrospective

Photographs by Hugh Morton: An Uncommon Retrospective

Hugh Morton (1921–2006) was a prolific photographer who created an estimated quarter-million negatives and transparencies during his lifetime.  A native of Wilmington, N.C., Morton learned photography during his childhood at Camp Yonahnoka near Grandfather Mountain in Avery County.  When he was only thirteen years old, his first published photograph— a golf scene that appeared in a N.C. tourism advertisement in Time Magazine.  In the following years, Morton’s photographs would come to be seen in countless publications—books, magazines, newspapers, and calendars, to name only a few—throughout eight decades.  Some Morton photographs have been published many times over; many others, however, have never or rarely been seen.  This exhibition Photographs by Hugh Morton: An Uncommon Retrospective highlights dozens of his lesser or unknown photographs alongside some classics.

Hugh Morton’s photographic legacy is preserved by the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives in Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  To create this exhibit photographic archivist Stephen J. Fletcher selected images from the Morton collection. In collaboration with staff members in the library’s Repository Services Department, they worked to create high-resolution digital scans from Morton’s original negatives and transparencies. Fletcher and Mangum then collaborated to make fine inkjet prints on exhibition grade paper.  The result: an uncommon view into the work of one of North Carolina’s most important photographers.

 A significant grant from the Ellice & Rosa McDonald Foundation helped fund the framing of the photographs in the exhibition.

The Hugh Morton Collection of Photographs and Films (Collection P0081, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library) documents Hugh MacRae Morton's career covering eight decades (1930s-2000s) as a prominent North Carolina businessman, political figure, tourism booster, conservationist, environmental activist, sports fan, and prolific image-maker. The still images and motion pictures in the collection cover aspects of Morton's various involvements: as a photojournalist; a soldier in the Pacific Theater during World War II; the owner and operator of the Grandfather Mountain tourist attraction in Linville, N.C.; a well-known figure in state government and friend of many North Carolina politicians, entertainers, and media personalities; an alumni, booster, and frequent sports-event attendee of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and an ardent admirer of nature and lover of travel.

This digital collection contains a selection of still photographs from Hugh Morton’s portfolio, representing only a small portion of the estimated 250,000 items in the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films. Wilson Library staff invites photo identifications, comments, questions, and suggestions for the Morton digital collection.

A project in partnership with the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives in Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.