Provenance: The Ohio Historical Society acquired the James Edward Saunders Photograph Collection as a gift of James Edward Saunders, Columbus, Ohio, in October 1974. Kathleen McIntyre processed the collection in October 1983.
Property rights: The Ohio Historical Society owns the property rights to this collection.
Copyrights: James Edward Saunders has dedicated such copyrights as he possesses in this collection to the public. Consideration of all other copyrights is the responsibility of the author and publisher.
Access: This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the Ohio Historical Society.
Citation: Researchers are requested to cite collection name, collection number, and the Ohio Historical Society in all footnote and bibliographic references.
Transfer: One photograph of the Ohio Avenue Day Nursery was transferred to SC 4472 in October 1983.
Biographical sketch: James Edward (Eddie) Saunders was born in Covington, Kentucky, in 1909. He graduated from Garnett High School in Charleston, West Virginia, and attended West Virginia State University and Wanzer Vocal School. After graduation he toured the country as a gospel singer with the Kings of Harmony and in 1937 moved to Columbus, Ohio, where he formed his own group, the Gospel Trumpets.
Saunders joined radio station WHKC (later WTVN) in 1944 and inaugurated programs titled "Helping Hand" and "Swanee Hour." He became central Ohio's first black disc jockey when he hosted "Chatter Platter" on WRFD radio in 1947. In 1948 he joined radio station WVKO, Columbus's first and only black station. Saunders continued to play gospel music but also programmed rhythm and blues, the first disc jockey to do so in the area. He worked at WVKO until 1979 when he became semi-retired, hosting only one radio program on Sunday mornings. Active within the Columbus community Saunders has received honors from the National Urban League, the Ohio General Assembly, the Columbus City Council, and other organizations.
Source: Interview with Eddie Saunders, November 1983; Columbus Citizen Journal, October 26, 1978.
Scope and content: The James Edward Saunders Photograph Collection contains 168 black and white photographs that span the years from ca. 1940 to 1974 and occupy one-quarter cubic foot. The photographs are arranged by subject, the majority being 8" x 10" publicity shots.
The photos of Saunders in folder one include candid and posed shots; many of the candids depict him hosting record hops. Pictures of Saunders in radio stations, both at WVKO and other stations, including shots with his father and wife as well as alone, are in folder two.
Although folders three and four contain pictures of singers and sports figures who are familiar to the general public, the majority of the photographs are of less well known gospel singers and groups. The political figures pictured in folder five include national, state, and local figures. The Appendix lists many of the people and groups depicted in folders three through five.
Saunders appears with many unidentified local groups and people in the photographs in folder six. The groups that are identified include the Frontiers of America Club, a Columbus chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star, and the quartet union of the Refuge Baptist Church.
There also are pictures of Saunders with other employees of WVKO shots of Saunders with groups of unidentified children and teenagers, and a group of Columbus's disc jockeys in 1957. The majority of photographs in folder seven are of black youths in school and at a recreation center. A photograph of the WVKO slo-pitch softball team is also included.