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Beverly Helm-Renfro - General Interest

Beverly Helm-Renfro grew up in Springfield, Illinois, the daughter of a prominent African-American who served for decades as the Secretary of State's photographer, where he took photos of the leading politicians of Illinois and a steady stream of notable Americans visiting the state capital. Beverly worked as an administrative assistant to two Illinois state senators, for Fred Smith from 1973 to 1978, and many years later for Barack Obama from 2001 to 2004, when he served in the Illinois State Senate.

Interview Links

Abstract

Interview Session 01 (Audio)

Growing up as daughter of statehouse photographer 'Doc' Helm

Interview Session 02 (Audio)

Legislative Asst. to state Senator Barack Obama

Transcript


Photos

Caption

Helm family portrait taken in Mt. Vernon, date unknown. Back row: Louise, James and Odeila Helm. Center row: Eddie Winfred “Doc” Helm (Beverly’s father), Richard (grandfather), Azzie (grandmother), and Lily Helm. Front row: Raymond and Booker T. Helm.

Where:

Mt. Vernon, Illinois

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption

Eddie, Beverly’s father, around 13 years of age, and a friend taken in Mt. Vernon, Illinois.

Where:

Mt. Vernon, Illinois

When:

Around 13 years of age

Ownership:

Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption

Detroit, Michigan – Booker T. Helm, Claude Grooms (husband of Louise R. Helm) and Eddie Winfred “One Shot Doc” Helm in the 50s.

Where:

Detroit, Michigan

When:

Circa 50's

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Gwendolyn Mason, Evelyn Mason, and Beverly’s mother, Dorothy Jeanette Mason, before she married Eddie Winfred Helm. The occasion was a Social Dance in Springfield, Illinois.

Where:

Social Dance in Springfield, Illinois

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption

Grandmother Sallie Helm and Grandfather Richard Helm heading to church, the Pavey A.M.E. Church in Mt. Vernon, Illinois.

Where:

Pavey A.M.E. Church in Mt. Vernon, Illinois.

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The Helm family home at 1128 South Pasfield, in Springfield, Illinois.

Where:

1128 South Pasfield, in Springfield, Illinois

When:

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Beverly, wife Dorothy and son James R. Helm around 1951 in the family’s backyard. “Dad was forever perfecting his craft and we were always his subjects,” wrote Beverly.

Where:

The family’s backyard

When:

Circa 1951

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Beverly in a waste basket, when she was two and a half. The paper was put in the bottom so she would not scuff the toes of her shoes.

Where:

Unknown

When:

two and a half

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Beverly and her collie, Camile, taken in the family’s back yard. Her father purchased Camile from a man that was mistreating her. Beverly was in her paddle car.

Where:

Unknown

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Beverly’s brother Jimmie was a little over two years old when he enjoyed a sparkler.

Where:

Unknown

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo.

Caption

Jimmie in his stroller in front of the family home. He was about two years old.

Where:

Helm Residence, Springfield, IL

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator's photo

Caption

Jimmie and Beverly dancing with life-size dolls in the early 1950s.

Where:

Unknown

When:

early 1950s

Ownership:

Narrator's photo

Caption

Jimmie holding the reins of Gene Autry’s horse Champion when the famous movie cowboy visited Springfield in 1955.

Where:

Springfield, IL

When:

1955

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Jimmie Helm is in the center of the second row for this photo from his first grade class at Hay Edwards Elementary School. He would have been around six years old at the time.

Where:

Hay Edwards Elementary School

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator's photo

Caption

Christmas Card – Beverly’s dad (Doc Helm) is dialing the rest of the family in on the television around 1953 or 1954. Doc was always trying new techniques to improve his photography skills.

Where:

Helm family Christmas Card

When:

1953 or 1954

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The family ‘reflects’ seasons greetings for their Christmas card in the early 1950s.

Where:

Helm family Christmas card

When:

Early 1950s

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Beverly, her mother, and Jimmie. They were on a car ferry that took them from Milwaukee to the Michigan side. They enjoyed at least two weeks of vacation every summer in Carp Lake, Michigan, and had a summer home near Mackinaw City, Michigan.

Where:

Milwaukee car ferry off Lake Michigan

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator's photo

Caption

Beverly’s father (‘One Shot’ Doc), stands in front of the State Archives Building in Springfield, Illinois in the late 1940s.

Where:

Illinois State Archives Building, Springfield, IL

When:

late 1940s

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Doc Helm strikes a pose in the Secretary of State’s main office.

Where:

Secretary of State's Office, Springfield, IL

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

“The Man behind the Camera,” ‘Doc’ Helm snaps a self portrait looking into the bedroom mirror.

Where:

Helm Residence

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo.

Caption

‘Doc’ Helm at work with himself.

Where:

Unknown

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator's Photo

Caption

‘Doc’ Helm participated in the formation of a new Frontier International, Inc. chapter in Springfield on April 14, 1953. These were the service organizations that later sponsored the Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast.

Where:

Frontier International, Inc. chapter meeting, Springfield IL

When:

April 14th, 1953

Ownership:

May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption

Doc Helm began a Masonic career in Mt. Vernon, IL in 1933. He joined Menelik Consistory #49 in Springfield and eventually became a 33rd degree mason in 1972. In 1985 he was appointed as Deputy for Illinois, a position he held until the summer of 1992.

Where:

Unknown

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

(May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption

Fats Domino in concert, sponsored by Frontier International, Inc., of Springfield, Illinois.

Where:

Fats Domino Concert, Springfield, IL

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Duke Ellington’s Band in concert Springfield, Illinois, circa 1970. The legendary band was sponsored by Frontiers International, Inc.

Where:

Duke Ellington concert, Springfield, IL

When:

circa 1970

Ownership:

Narrator's photo

Caption

Doc with Governor, Samuel H. Shapiro, 1968.

Where:

Unknown

When:

1968

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Sec. of State Paul Powell and Doc Helm. “Dad’s philosophy was to do your job and do it to the best of your ability and do not get caught in gossip,” wrote Beverly. “That was the way he lived his life, doing his best and never looking down on others.”

Where:

Unknown

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Secretary of State, John W. Lewis on March 26, 1971. Doc was honored for his thirty-seven years of service with the Secretary of State’s Office.

Where:

Unknown

When:

March 26, 1971

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

The Photo Lab: Marlin Roos, James R. Helm, Boots Holland and Doc Helm.

Where:

Unknown

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain

Caption

Dorothy, Jimmie, and Eddie ‘Doc’ Helm. Beverly’s brother Jimmie had just brought home his baby son, Eddie Glen Helm. They are standing on the porch of the family home.

Where:

Helm Residence

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Sheila Renee Day, Doc and Dorothy’s first born grandchild, graduated from 8th Grade in Cincinnati, Ohio. From left to right are Sheila, Beverly (mother), aunt Gwen and Nana, as her grandchildren called her.

Where:

Unknown

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Beverly Helm at a Masonic Christmas Dance in Springfield, Illinois circa the mid 1970s.

Where:

Masonic Christmas Dance, Springfield, IL

When:

circa mid-1970s

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The Helms at Carp Lake, Michigan. Only at the lake did Beverly’s father not wear a suit and tie. Back row: L. Clayton, Beverly, Doc, Uncle Claude,

Where:

Carp Lake, Michigan

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

This photo of Lincoln’s bust superimposed on Lincoln’s tomb was created by Doc Helm. Doc’s son, Jim, a photographer himself, tried many times to duplicate the picture and could not.

Where:

Lincoln's tomb, Springfield, IL

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

State Senator Barack Obama and Beverly at fundraiser for Beverly’s run for the Springfield/District 186 School Board, circa 2002.

Where:

Springfield, Illinois

When:

circa 2002

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

February 10th, 2007, when Senator Barack Obama announced his run for President of the United States on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield. “You came,” Senator Obama said to Beverly, and she replied, “where do you think I was to be?”

Where:

Obama campaign announcement, Old State Capitol, Springfield, IL

When:

February 10th, 2007

Ownership:

Unknown

Caption

‘Meet and Greet for Barack Obama the night before Democratic Day at the Illinois State Fair in August, 2004. From left to right are Maurice Renfro (Beverly’s future husband), Senator Obama, Brandis Stokes and Beverly.

Where:

Meet and Greet for Barack Obama, Illinois State Fair

When:

August 2004

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The official opening of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library on July 5, 2005. “I asked Barack to sign the picture and date it; it would be worth a lot of money one day,” wrote Beverly. He laughed. “You wouldn’t sell my picture would you?”

Where:

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Opening, Springfield IL

When:

July 5th, 2005

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain



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