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Bernard M. Cone Photograph Albums

Bernard Milton Cone (1874-1956) was born in Baltimore as one of the youngest of Herman and Helen Cone’s thirteen children. His elder brothers, Moses (1857-1908) and Ceasar (1859-1917), built Proximity Cotton Mills in Greensboro in 1895, and in subsequent years launched Revolution Mill, White Oak Mill, and Proximity Print Works, creating one of the largest textile mill companies in the South.

Educated at Johns Hopkins University and Columbia Law School, Bernard Cone worked as a lawyer in New York for seven years before settling in Greensboro in 1904. Over the next 45 years, he held various positions in the family’s textile empire, including that of president of Proximity Manufacturing Company from 1917 to 1938.

Cone was a skilled amateur photographer, and his photos provide a rich picture of life in Greensboro from the 1890s to 1910s. Images show: members of the Cone family and their mansions on Summit Ave., the textile mills (both interiors and exteriors) and their employees, the mill villages and their residents, and mill-sponsored schools and recreational activities. Cone also captured street scenes in downtown Greensboro and the city’s 1908 centennial celebrations. In addition, the collection includes several creative self-portraits.

These photographs are housed in six albums assembled by Bernard Cone, who numbered each image.  A concerted effort has been made over the years to find the key to these numbers, with no luck to date. The identifications presented here are based on either a simple description of the photo’s elements, the archivist’s knowledge of the scene’s location, people and events depicted, but also by individuals from the community, including family members, who had long connections to Cone Mills and were asked to provide identifications. Examples of how each album is constructed and presented can be seen here.

This entire collection has been digitized.

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