The Clinton Wright Photographs (1964-2018) contains black-and-white photographic negatives of various sizes, dating from 1964 to 1971. The images document the Black experience in Las Vegas, Nevada during the 1960s and 1970s, and capture scenes of everyday life in the historic Black neighborhood known as the Westside, social events such as weddings and parties, and events hosted by local churches. The collection also contains a photograph of Clinton Wright from 2017 when he visited the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Special Collections and Archives, and a memorial program for his wife, Joyce Wright, who passed away in 2018.
Collection is open for research.
Materials in this collection may be protected by copyrights and other rights. See Reproductions and Use on the UNLV Special Collections and Archives website for more information about reproductions and permissions to publish.
The Clinton Wright Photographs (1964-2018) contains black-and-white photographic negatives of various sizes, dating from 1964 to 1971. The images document the Black experience in Las Vegas, Nevada during the 1960s and 1970s, and capture scenes of everyday life in the historic Black neighborhood known as the Westside, social events such as weddings and parties, and events hosted by local churches. The collection also contains a photograph of Clinton Wright from 2017 when he visited the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Special Collections and Archives, and a memorial program for his wife, Joyce Wright, who passed away in 2018. Item descriptions were taken directly from the collection material and were not altered by the processor.
Clinton Wright is a photographer who was well known for preserving the African American experience in Las Vegas, Nevada during the 1960s and 1970s. Working for the Las Vegas Voice newspaper, Wright used his talent to take images of elegant events and thriving communities during a time of great change in America, including his own community of the Westside in Las Vegas. Presented at galleries and exhibits, his photograph collections display great spirit and vibrancy that no other media could offer at the time.
Clinton Wright spent his early years in Altheimer, a little farm town outside of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. His father worked at a United States government arsenal while his mother raised nine children at home. Wright helped out with the family farm along with his parents and eight siblings until he enrolled in the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. His family left and moved to Las Vegas, Nevada during the mid-1950s in order for his father to seek employment. Majoring in mechanical arts and electricity, Wright graduated after four years and reunited with his family in the Westside, a predominately African American community in Las Vegas by 1959.
Although Wright and his family moved to the city in a time of deep segregation and discrimination, he and his father found better paying opportunities compared to their previous life in Arkansas. Wright's father worked for the City of Las Vegas as a truck driver, eventually going out on his own to become a painter, contractor, and carpenter. Clinton Wright applied for several jobs due to the fact that the school district was very small, therefore not having much to offer in the field that he had studied. His jobs included working for the state highway department and kitchen work at the Stardust hotel and casino. He also became employed as a financial planner for A. L. Williams. In 1972, Wright married Joyce Wright, a registered nurse from St. Louis, Missouri, and had a son and a daughter together.
Wright soon took some time for himself to become skilled in photography, and it later became his passion. He set up his own photography business for some time, capturing photographs of his community on the Westside. Recognized for his work as a photographer at weddings and events, he was recommended to Dr. Charles West who was in need of a photographer for his publication, the Las Vegas Voice, a Black newspaper. Wright became an official photographer for the paper, receiving calls when there were parties, sporting events, urgent news, and church events that were in need of his skills. He was also called to document celebrity weddings, such as the wedding of James A. Gay at the Sands Hotel. Wright was given the duty of taking photographs of Black entertainers when they visited town for the newspaper, such as Sammy Davis Jr. and Bill Cosby. He worked alongside Alice Key, who did the editing for the newspaper.
Although Wright captured many joyous moments, there was a danger that came along with being a newspaper photographer during the 1960s. Wright was often asked to document the riots taking place across the country, but declined. After working for fifteen years for the Las Vegas Voice, Clinton Wright now resides in Texas. Joyce Wright passed away in 2018.
Clinton Wright oral history interview, 2005 October 13. OH-02026. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, UniversityLibraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.
"Life on the Westside." University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Accessed July 22, 2020. https://www.unlv.edu/news/release/life-westside.
Materials remain in original order.
Clinton Wright Photographs, 1964-2018. PH-00379. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Nevada, Nevada.
Materials were donated in 2014 by Clinton Wright; accession number 2014-030.
The collection was minimally processed by Tom Sommer in 2014 at the time of accessioning. In 2020, as part of an archival backlog elimination project, Melise Leech rehoused the materials and revised the collection description in ArchivesSpace.