Evelyn Poole Stewart McNeil, a professional photographer, captured the history of the African-American community of Akron on film.
She was born Evelyn Poole in Memphis, Tenn., in 1918. She moved to Akron with her family, which included a brother George and two sisters Clara and Wilma. Little is known about her early education. For a time she worked for the Cleveland Call and Post, the African-American weekly newspaper, as a reporter and photographer covering Akron.
Sometime during the 1940s, she met Horace Stewart, an immigrant from British Guyana. Stewart was a photographer who ran a studio on North Howard Street. Poole and Stewart married in 1950 and together ran the Stewart Photographic Studio. The Stewarts specialized in photographing the African-American community. The two photographed the African-American leaders in the city, the special events and everyday life in the community. After her husband died in 1968, Stewart continued to run the studio, finally retiring in 1978.
Evelyn Stewart remarried Dr. Noah McNeil. Evelyn Poole Stewart McNeil died in Akron on Jan.7, 1992. She was a member of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church.Her collection of photographs which documented the Akron’s African-American community was donated to The University of Akron. Evelyn Poole Stewart McNeil is buried in Northlawn Cemetery.
Photo courtesy of the Beacon Journal. Card courtesy of The University of Akron Archives.
–Kathleen L. Endres