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Helen M. Stummer

“Arnetha as a child while living in Newark,“ Helen M. Stummer (1985) Image courtesy of Helen Stummer

“Arnetha as a child while living in Newark,“ Helen M. Stummer (1985)
Image courtesy of Helen Stummer

Helen M. Stummer (1936- ) is a photographer who has been documenting Newark’s Central Ward for many years.

She gives her photographs to her subjects, many of whom became her friends. Stummer raised her family then completed her education by earning a GED, a Bachelor’s degree from Kean University, and finally a Master’s degree at age 50. The first solo exhibitions of her work in New Jersey was held at Kean University, the Newark Public Library, and the Mason Gross School of the Arts in 1986. Her book No Easy Walk (1994) contains her images and includes excerpts from her interviews with the people she photographed in Newark.


“Goddea,Tea Time on Good Friday,”Helen M. Stummer, a documentary photographer.
Courtesy,  Helen M. Stummer, 2001, 1985.
Source, New Jersey Historical Society

Questions to Explore

What messages does Stummer try to portray through her photography?

What is Stummer’s viewpoint on poverty? How does her work documenting Newark, NJ help to create this outlook?

Additional Resources

Stummer Helen M Bonnie Yochelson and Aljira a Center for Contemporary Art. 2007. Bending the Grid : Rest in Peace by Helen M. Stummer. Newark N.J: Aljira a Center for Contemporary Art. https://www.worldcat.org/title/214075577

Stummer Helen M. 2017. Risking Life and Lens : A Photographic Memoir. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. https://www.worldcat.org/title/948339536

Stinger, Sean, and Helen Stummer. “A Concerned Photographer: Helen M. Stummer.” Cerise Press. Cerise Press, November 26, 2009. http://www.cerisepress.com/03/09/a-concerned-photographer-helen-m-stummer/view-all.