(1918-Sept. 1959). Emmett Isom Brown Jr. was the son of Alberta S. and Emmett I. Brown Sr., a dentist and senior pastor at Martindale Avenue Church of Christ. Brown Jr. was born in 1918 and attended Indianapolis Public Schools, notably Crispus Attucks High School. He also attended Tennessee A & I State University (now known as Tennessee State University) and later received training at the American School of Photography in Chicago, Illinois, before returning to Indianapolis to begin his career. Brown Jr. became a 32nd-degree Prince Hall Mason and sang tenor in a trio at his church where he also served as an assistant pastor.

A small group of people stand at the entrance of a small building. Two men in the middle are shaking hands.
In 1959 Emmett Brown, third from the left, relocated the Brown Showcase to 1665 Martindale Avenue (now Dr. Andrew J. Brown Street). Credit: Indiana Historical Society View Source

Emmett I. Brown Jr. was a professional photographer, best-known for documenting the jazz scene along Indiana Avenue. In the late 1940s Brown opened a photography studio, the Brown Show Case, at 808 Indiana Avenue. Strategically located next to George’s Bar, a popular venue for local jazz musicians, here Brown Jr. captured a glimpse of rarely seen Black culture through its nightlife as he photographed musicians and entertainers.

Brown lived in Chattanooga, Tennessee in the mid-1950s, again opening a photography studio, and became an editor at Sepia Frame magazine, where he continued his work highlighting notable African American people. He returned to Indianapolis in 1956 and established a new studio on the eastside at 1665 Martindale Avenue (later changed to Doctor Andrew J. Brown Street). From this studio, Brown concentrated on portraits and freelance photography for the Indianapolis Recorder.

During his 20-year career, Brown photographed notable jazz icons including Dizzy Gillespie, Jimmy Cleveland, The Hampton Sisters, and numerous others. Brown was well known for capturing the imagery of Indianapolis’ African American community through photos of churches, businesses, and street scenes.

In addition to notable jazz musicians and entertainers, Brown Jr. photographed well-known community leaders such as Judge Mercer Mance; Francis D. Hummons, a local physician; and evangelist T. R. Murff.

Much of his work from the 1940s and 1950s is found in the Emmett I. Brown Photograph Collection at the Indiana Historical Society.

Revised July 2021

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