Smithsonian Collections

Mississippi John Hurt

Image for Mississippi John Hurt
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
Exhibition Label
Charmian Reading's portrait of "Mississippi" John Hurt pictures the celebrated blues guitarist performing in 1966, in conjunction with the March Against Fear, a 220-mile march from Memphis to Jackson, Mississippi, to champion civil rights reform. Hurt spent most of his life in a small town not far from the marchers' route, and when he learned of their presence he came out to lend his support. Prior to appearing at the Newport Folk Festival in 1963, an occasion that led to widespread acclaim, Hurt lived in relative obscurity in Mississippi, playing occasionally for local audiences. Although he had recorded a selection of songs back in 1928, he worked principally as a farmer and a laborer, supporting his wife and fourteen children. His "rediscovery" in the 1960s led to new opportunities to record and to perform, and prompted a nationwide blues revival.
Charmian Reading, 1930 - 2014
Mississippi John Hurt, 3 Jul 1893 - 2 Nov 1966
1966 (printed later)
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Gelatin silver print on paper
Image: 26.9 x 35 cm (10 9/16 x 13 3/4")
Sheet: 27.7 x 35.4 cm (10 7/8 x 13 15/16")
Mat: 55.9 x 71.1 cm (22 x 28")
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Object number
Music\Musical instrument\Guitar
Mississippi John Hurt: Male
Mississippi John Hurt: Natural Resources\Agriculturist\Farmer
Mississippi John Hurt: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Guitarist
Mississippi John Hurt: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Singer\Folk
United States\Mississippi\Grenada
Restrictions & Rights
© Family of Charmian Reading