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Collection #17

Richard Peckinpaugh Beach Photographs

Date:1950 - 1980 (Bulk 1950 - 1969)
Size:946 photographs


The collection was donated in 1992 to the National Archive of Lesbian and Gay History by Edward of “Out of the Closet Thrift Shop” on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. He acquired the photos along with other materials from a man who was moving out of New York. An unsuccessful attempt was made to contact the original owner through Edward. Through further research, we have found a few of these Collection No. 17 prints in Swasarnt Nerf’s Gay Guides for 1949, edited by Hugh Hagius and part of collection No. 90, where we were able to identify the photographer of this collection.

Scope and Content

The photographs in this collection were contained in a single hard cover scrapbook with paper pages. Each page contained two columns of from twenty to twenty-five mostly black and white photographs, each of which were taped to the page at the top of the photograph such that they could be viewed by simply flipping them over from the top of the column to the bottom. Most columns had a hand written header consisting of a geographical location and a date. It is assumed that this describes the photographs in the column below. Most of the photos were taken at New York area beaches such as Coney Island, Riis Beach, and Point Lookout as well as in Atlantic City, New Jersey that were frequented by Gay men and Lesbians. The photographs span a period from the late 1940’s, which the collector noted on the first page, through the late 1970’s which was noted on the last page. There were some photos of the New York Gay Pride parade after the last header. These may be from the early 1980’s.

History or Bio

Richard Peckinpaugh, who lived from 1918 – 1991, was an army veteran who fought in the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Second World War. Richard contracted dengue fever in the South Pacific, and spent some time recovering from the disease in a veterans hospital after the war. Once he recovered from the disease, Richard left for New York City, instead of his native Ohio, where he would spend the rest of his days. As an amateur photographer who had an eye for good-looking men, Richard would photograph men in popular gay hangout and cruising spots.

Folder List

Box 1

Folder 1:

1-25. Pt. Lookout, Long Beach [NY] Late 1940’s [includes same sex dancing on the beach.]

26-55. Atlantic City [NJ], 1950’s [contain some wonderful images of men and women socializing on the beach with the elaborate Atlantic City hotels in the background.]

56-63. Chicago 1950’s [appear to be from a Lake Michigan beach in Chicago (probably Oak Street Beach).]

64-77. Pt. Lookout 1952.

78-110. Riis Park [NY] 1950’s.

111-123. Coney [Island. Also from the 1950’s].

Folder 2:

124-329. Riis [Park. If the chronology of the scrap book is intact, then these photos are from the 1950’s into the 1960’s. Photo 208 shows two men walking arm in arm, which is one of the few overt displays of affection captured in this collection.]

Folder 3:

330-537. 1960’s [these photographs seem to be from the same New York area beaches as previous photos.]

537-574. 1965 1966 1968 1969.

Folder 4:

575-612. 1971-1972

613-646. 1973

647-683. 1974-1975.

684-728. 1976 1977

Folder 5:

728-844. 1978 [the homogeneity of the collection stops at this point, as there are some oversize color prints added to the other photos that are black and white standard snapshots.]

845-857. Old Cruising Areas, Rockefeller Center, Bryant Pk, CPW, Ramble CP [NYC These photos were grouped together with a rubber band and were placed in the book between pages with these headings. The headers appear to be accurate.]

860-876. Old Cruising Areas Rockefeller Center, Bryant Park, CPW. [861 and 862 were loose on these pages of the scrap book.]877-919. Ramble CP [chock full of images of men promenading in Central Park.]

920-931. Christopher St. GPD [Gay Pride Day]

932-946. Baths Bars Etc.[appear to be from the earlier years of this collection.]