Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  C. William Horrell  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Non-Fiction

Born: 1918

Sites:


Illinois Connection

Horrell lived in Southern Illinois, an area commonly known as Little Egypt. This area is known for its beautiful scenery and coal mines.

Biographical and Professional Information

C. William Horrell was widely recognized as an outstanding social-documentary photographer. He began his teaching career at Southern Illinois University in 1949, where he was instrumental in establishing the Department of Cinema and Photography. During his lifetime, his photographs appeared in many major metropolitan newspapers and a variety of popular and specialty magazines, including Life, Pic, Youth and Friends.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

Land Between the Rivers: The Southern Illinois Country (Southern Illinois University Centennial Publications)
ISBN: 0809311194

Southern Illinois University Press. 1982

Lying in an area bounded by the Wabash, Ohio, and Mississippi rivers, the Southern Illinois country is rich in history, folk­lore, scenery, and natural resources. At about the latitude of southern Virginia, and extending from the flat prairie farm­land of central Illinois to the rugged “Illinois Ozarks,” the area is the natural terminal boundary for hundreds of plant species reaching out to all points of the compass. It is also the oldest and most sparsely populated part of Illinois, a region of small towns and independent people, typical of the vast heartland of the U.S.A.

Surveying the area in words and pic­tures the authors sensitively and appre­ciatively portray the region’s special qualities. An uncommon portrayal of American life in a distinctive region, the book provides a memorable journey both in time and place.

Southern Illinois Coal: A Portfolio (Shawnee Books)
ISBN: 0809313413

Southern Illinois University Press. 1995

The coal mining photographs of C. William Horrell, taken across the southern Illinois Coal Belt over a twenty-year period from 1966 to 1986, are extraordinary examples of documentary photography—so stark and striking that captions seem superfluous.



Horrell’s photographs, reproduced in fine duotone lithography, capture the varied phenomena of twentieth-century coal mining technology: the awesome scale of surface mining machines and their impact on the land

massive machines forced into narrow passageways with inches to spare

as they carry coal from the face to conveyer belts

and, more significantly, the advent of continuous miners, machines that dominated underground or "deep" mines during the mid-1960s.



Horrell was also intrigued by the related activities of mining, including coal’s processing, cleaning, and transportation, as well as the daily, behind-the-scenes operations that keep mines and miners working. His photographs reflect the beauty of the commonplace—the clothes of the miners, their dinner pails, and their tools—and reveal the picturesque remnants of closed mines: the weathered boards of company houses, the imposing iron beauty of an ancient tipple, the grassy sidewalks of an old coal town, and an abandoned building against the lowering sky of an approaching storm. Finally, his portraits of coal miners, such as the widely published Black-Faced Miner, show the strength, dignity, and enduring spirit of the men and women who work the southern Illinois coal mines.


Awards

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