Aubespin, Mervin, Photograph Collection, 1937-2013

Held by The Filson Historical Society

Creator: Mervin Aubespin

Title: The Mervin Aubespin (1937-) Photograph Collection, 1937-2013.

Rights: For information regarding literary and copyright interest for these papers, contact the Collections Department.

Size of Collection: 1.33 cubic ft

Location Number: 020PC11

Scope and Content Note 

This collection consists of 91 folders and includes material related to Mervin Aubespin’s career as a journalist, as well as some material from his personal life. Material throughout the collection reflects Aubespin’s lifelong mission to bring more people of color and underrepresented populations into the field of journalism.

Throughout his career at the Courier-Journal, Aubespin was also involved in numerous professional journalism organizations including, but not limited to the National Association of Black Journalists and the American Copy Editor Society. The collection documents Aubespin’s involvement with these organizations and several mentorship programs, such as the Rainbow Institute.

In addition, the photographs document Aubespin’s numerous international journalism trips and his involvement with the United Nations Development Programme focusing on such issues such as HIV/AIDS in Africa and media images of Africa, among other topics. Finally, photographs document Aubespin’s work as co-author of Two Centuries of Black Louisville: A Photographic History alongside Kenneth Clay and Dr. Blaine Hudson.


Related Collections:

Mervin Aubespin museum collection [2020.27.1-2]

Mervin Aubespin 1937- Papers, 1910-2020 (bulk: 1980-2015) [Mss. A A892]


Biographical Note

Mervin Aubespin was born in 1937 in Opelousas, Louisiana. In 1958, he graduated from the Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University). While studying at Tuskegee, Aubespin became involved with the Civil Rights movement, including the Montgomery Bus Boycott and march from Selma to Montgomery. Upon graduation Aubespin moved to Louisville where he became a teacher and remained involved in the civil rights demonstrations in the city. He then took a job at BF Goodrich, which according to Aubespin resulted in the loss of his draft deferment. In an interview, Aubespin stated that while serving his obligatory two years of military service, he decided to spend his free time studying art.

Following honorable release from the military, Aubespin returned to Louisville where he and other Black artists founded the Louisville Art Workshop. In 1967, Aubespin took a job at the Courier-Journal as a news artist.

It was during a period of pronounced racial unrest in 1968 that Aubespin’s career as a reporter began. During this time as it became unsafe for his white coworkers to report from the scene, Aubespin assumed the role of reporter and relayed stories of what was occurring in west Louisville to the writers at the Courier-Journal. Aubespin says he eventually returned to his job as an artist before being approached months later by the publisher of the newspaper and told that he was more valuable to the Courier-Journal as a reporter. In 1971, he entered the Minority Journalism Program at Columbia University.

Aubespin’s career as a journalist for the Courier-Journal spanned decades and included countless stories. Throughout his time at the Courier-Journal he worked in several positions and retired from the newspaper in 2002 as the Associate Editor/Development. Aubespin served as a consultant on media to the United Nations Development Programme’s Office of Public Affairs and led numerous trips of journalists to countries including Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Mozambique, and South Africa, among others.

Aubespin’s lifelong mission was to diversify newspaper staff and involve more people of color in the production of the news, which is reflected in his involvement with numerous professional organizations and mentorship programs. Aubespin was a longtime member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE), and was involved in the Chips Quinn Scholars program and Multicultural Journalism Workshop, among other organizations.

In 2011, Mervin Aubespin, Kenneth Clay, and Dr. J. Blaine Hudson published their co-authored book Two Centuries of Black Louisville: A Photographic History after years of work on the project.

Aubespin has received numerous awards and accolades, including the Ida B. Wells Award in 1990 for “for exemplary leadership in providing minorities employment opportunities in journalism,” and the 1991 Distinguished Service to Journalism Award by the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communications. He is a member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame.

Aubespin is married to Deborah Cahill Aubespin. He has a daughter from a previous marriage, Eleska Aubespin and a stepdaughter, Sarah Spearing.


Folder List 

Box 1

Family and Personal photographs

Folder 1: Aubespin baby photographs, 1937-1939

Folder 2: Aubespin family photographs, c. 1940-1975

Folder 3: Aubespin family photographs, c. 1940-1990

Folder 4: Aubespin family photographs, c.1980-2010

Folder 5: Aubespin with friends and family, 1954-1960

Folder 6: Performance by Duke Ellington (?) and Ray Nance, c. 1955

Folder 7: Tuskegee Institute photographs, 1956-1957

Folder 8: Miss Exposition contest, 1961

Folder 9: Military service at Fort Hood, 1963-1965

Folder 10: Selma to Montgomery March, 1965

Folder 11: Aubespin with Joe Hammond and unidentified man at Joe’s Palm Room, 1968

Folder 12: Aubespin with Bill Clinton, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, and other famous individuals, c.1970-1997

Folder 13: Headshots and portraits, 1973-2000

Folder 14: Fishing trips, c. 1980-2010

Folder 15: Fishing trips continued, 1982-2006

Folder 16: Aubespin and unknown people at Churchill Downs, 1985

Folder 17: Aubespin with President Bill Clinton photographs and negatives, 1994

Folder 18: Group photograph at Legacies Old School Music Festival and other unidentified event, 2009

Folder 19: Aubespin with Greg Fischer, 2010

Folder 20: Holiday party photographs, undated

Folder 21: Aubespin with Ed Hamilton, undated

Folder 22: Aubespin with Al and Tipper Gore, undated

Folder 23: Aubespin with Seymour Topping, undated

Folder 24: Robert Douglas, Kenneth Clay, Mervin Aubespin, and Ed Hamilton, undated

Folder 25: Aubespin at dinner with unidentified group holding African art, undated

Folder 26: Unidentified people, 2000-2006


Folder 27: Black musicians with descriptions and recollections, undated

Folder 28: Jazz musicians slides, 1974

Folder 29: Signed photo of Wendell Scott to Blanche, undated

Courier-Journal related

Folder 30: Aubespin at drafting table, c. 1965

Folder 31: Photographs related to assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and riots in Louisville, 1968

Folder 32: Courier-Journal Press photographs, ca. 1930-1990

Folder 33: Aubespin and unidentified men likely at the Courier-Journal, 1973

Folder 34: Unidentified party potentially Courier-Journal related, 1985-1990

Folder 35: Aubespin and David Hawpe, 1989

Folder 36: Aubespin with Courier-Journal news interns, c. 1995

Folder 37: Courier-Journal retirement party, 2002

Folder 38: Western Middle School newspaper project, 2004

Folder 39: Unidentified cultural diversity event likely in Courier-Journal lobby, undated

Folder 40: Aubespin giving talk on diversity to staff at the Courier-Journal, undated

Folder 41: Aubespin, unidentified woman, and Muhammed Ali likely at the Courier-Journal, undated

Folder 42: Unidentified man lecturing (possibly at Columbia) photographs by Edward C. Davis III, undated

Folder 43: Aubespin with an unidentified group (possibly Courier-Journal interns), undated

Folder 44: David Hawpe headshot, undated

 National Association of Black Journalists

Folder 45: NABJ Conventions, 1981-1987

Folder 46: NABJ Conventions continued, 1981-1987

Folder 47: NABJ Atlanta Convention, 1984-1985

Folder 48: NABJ Baltimore Convention, 1985

Folder 49: NABJ/ASNE Historically Black College Short Course Hampton University, 1991

Folder 50: NABJ/ASNE Flying Short course, undated

Folder 51: Aubespin with unidentified man at the NABJ offices, undated

Mentorship and Miscellaneous Projects

Folder 52: Louisville Association of Black Communicators group photograph, undated

Folder 53: Trips to Jackson State, Tennessee State, 1989

Folder 54: Rainbow Institute photographs 1992-1995

Folder 55: Aubespin with group of young adults at the Bristol restaurant, undated

Folder 56: Aubespin at an unidentified speaking engagements, undated


Folder 57: Ida B. Wells award ceremony, 1990

Folder 58: Mervin R. Aubespin award (Association of Black College Journalism and Mass Communication Programs), 1991

Folder 59: Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame/Joe Creason Lecture, 1995

Folder 60: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Award, 2010

Box 2

International Travel & Work with the United Nations:

Folder 61: Aubespin with Bradford Morse, Director of the Officer for Emergency Operations in Africa, 1985

Folder 62: Travel to Burkina Faso, Mozambique, and other material, 1996-1997

Folder 63: Travel to Guatemala, 1997

Folder 64: Aubespin with Nelson Mandela and Djibril Diallo, 1997

Folder 65: Travel to Senegal for Seminar on Covering Poverty with Birame Diallo, 1997

Folder 66: Photographs related to work with the United Nations (Fesman Launch, Int’l Day for the Eradication of Poverty), 1997

Folder 67: Travel to Mali, 1997-1999

Folder 68: Aubespin with Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General in New York, 2002

Folder 69: Photo of Zambia market and letter from Madelyn Jennings, 2002

Folder 70: National Dance Company Goree Island Performance slide, undated

Folder 71: Travel abroad possibly in Timbuktu, undated

Folder 72: Aubespin and Tom Morgan at the U.N. meeting of the Task Force on AIDS in Africa, undated

Folder 73: Aubespin likely at Goree Island, undated

Art Related

Folder 74: Edward C. Davis III, 1972

Folder 75: Ed Hamilton in his studio, 1974

Folder 76: Unidentified man (possibly Edward C. Davis III) c. 1975

Folder 77: Aubespin and unknown group at a party, 1975

Folder 78: Theodore Clayton (junk metal sculptor) with sculptures photographed by Aubespin, c. 1975

Folder 79: Photograph of drawing by Aubespin, 1975

Folder 80: Aubespin at work on a painting, undated

Folder 81: Photographs of Aubespin, art clippings, and other material, undated

Two Centuries of Black Louisville

Folder 82: Two Centuries of Black Louisville book signings, c. 2010

Folder 83: Mayor Greg Fischer and authors of Two Centuries of Black Louisville at Celebrating the Legacy of Black Louisville Event, c. 2010

Folder 84: Various photographs of Black Louisville (likely related to Two Centuries of Black Louisville), undated

Oversized materials

Folder 85: NABJ conventions photographs, 1981-1987

Folder 86: Aubespin portrait photograph, 1988

Folder 87: Travel abroad likely Timbuktu, undated

Folder 88: Aubespin with Nelson Mandela and Djibril Diallo, 1997

Folder 89: Aubespin with Al and Tipper Gore (signed photograph), undated


Digital materials

These files are restricted to in-house viewing. Please see the reference desk or email gro.l1709019288aciro1709019288tsihn1709019288oslif1709019288@hcra1709019288eser1709019288

Folder 90: Two Centuries of Black Louisville Book Signings, and Christmas Party ca. 2011-2013, CD-Rs

Celebrating the Legacy of Black Louisville Event photographs by Edward C. Davis III, May 1, 2011:

Photographs depict the authors of Two Centuries of Black Louisville: A Photographic History speaking to a crowd and historical interpretations by actors. Mayor Greg Fischer is also pictured.

Birthday Party photographs by Edward C. Davis III, December 27, 2013:

Photographs of what appears to be a birthday party for Sarah Spearing.

Two Centuries of Black Louisville Book Signing photographs by Edward C. Davis III, May 22, 2011:

Photographs of the three authors signing books and speaking. In addition to the three authors, Greg Fischer, Elmer Lucille Allen, and other prominent Louisvillians appear in some photographs.

Two Centuries of Black Louisville Book Signing photographs by Edward C. Davis III, May 29, 2011:

Photographs of the three authors signing books. In addition to the authors, Edward C. Davis III, and author Rick Bell are also pictured.


Subject Headings 

African American arts.

African American authors.

African Americans – Kentucky – Louisville.

Aubespin, Mervin, 1937-

Belafonte, Harry, 1927-

Bell, Rick

Civil rights movements – United States.

Clay, Kenneth H., 1939-

Courier-journal (Louisville, Ky.)

Davis, Edward C., III 1950-

Douglas, Robert L.

Ellington, Duke, 1899-1974

Hamilton, Ed, 1947-

Hawpe, David V., 1943-

Hudson, James Blaine, III, 1949-2013

Jackson, Jesse, 1941-

Journalism – Kentucky – Louisville.

Louisville Art Workshop (Louisville, Ky.)

Louisville (Ky.)

Mandela, Nelson, 1918-2013

Mass media and minorities.

Minorities in journalism.

Nance, Ray, 1913-1976

National Association of Black Journalists.

Newspaper employees.

Selma to Montgomery Rights March (1965 : Selma, Ala.)

Topping, Seymour, 1921-2020

Tuskegee Institute.

Two Centuries of Black Louisville (2011)

United Nations Development Programme.