African Descendants in New Orleans: A Visual History
Arthur P. Bedou, St. Mary's Academy, Scene from a Play, St. Mary's Academy (founded and administered by the Sisters of the Holy Family), c. 1940s, Archives of the Sisters of the Holy Family, New Orleans. -Byrd/AASC
Bedou's career spanned more than sixty years. He was widely known for his distinctive portraits of jazz musicians, New Orleans families and members of Catholic, African American institutions throughout Louisiana. He was also the primary portrait photographer for Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, a historically Black, Catholic institution, from the early to mid-twentieth century. In addition, he produced a series of eloquent, Pictorialist landscapes that document rural Louisiana and Mississippi.
Bedou is certainly best known for his introspective, widely-reproduced portraits of Booker T. Washington, serving as his personal photographer during Washington's tenure as President of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Bedou frequently photographed the leading educator, author and activist, and often traveled with him on fundraising tours. In addition to his photographic endeavors, Bedou was also one of the founders of the Peoples Industrial Life Insurance Company of Louisiana, established in New Orleans in 1910 by a distinguished group of businessmen and community leaders of African descent.