Hurricane Camille Photograph Collection PI/NA/H43.6

Camille, a category 5 hurricane, made landfall on the Gulf Coast just east of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, around midnight on August 17, 1969, with winds estimated at 200 miles per hour and tides fifteen to thirty-two feet above normal. As it moved through central Kentucky and into West Virginia and Virginia, it dumped up to thirty-one inches of rain, generating flash floods and landslides. The storm system caused an estimated 259 deaths (three in Cuba, 143 on the Gulf Coast, and 113 in the Virginia floods) and $1.421 billion in damage. Until hurricanes Andrew (1992) and Katrina (2005), Camille was cited as the largest single act of destruction in United States history.

The Hurricane Camille Photograph Collection consists of seventy-three images related to the aftermath of the storm on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The images were combined from three sources. The United States Air Force produced the first eight (black-and-white) photographs that document Keesler Air Force Base personnel involved in the recovery efforts post-landfall. Al Fred Daniel, a professional photographer from Jackson, Mississippi, created twenty-three black-and-white images of commercial and residential property damage. The largest piece of the collection consists of forty-two color photographs taken by John W. Nicholson Jr., also from Jackson, who captured images of the destruction, especially to churches, along most of the Gulf Coast, including Biloxi, Mississippi City, Gulfport, Long Beach, Pass Christian, and Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

Collection Description General & Tech Data Catalog Record

Collection Description

The seventy-three photographs in the Hurricane Camille collection present the storm's devastation of the Mississippi Gulf Coast from three perspectives: Keesler Air Force Base personnel's relief efforts, photographer Al Fred Daniel's drive-by impressions, and John W. Nicholson Jr.'s documentary photographs.

Keesler Air Force Base was established as a United States Air Force training facility in Biloxi, Mississippi, in 1941. Hurricane Camille caused an estimated $3.5 million damage to the base, but Keesler personnel and students mobilized to assist local agencies with recovery and relief efforts. Their eight 8"x10" black-and-white photographs include a diagram of the path and range of the storm on August 17, 1969, and documentation of base personnel's contributions to the clean up.

In August 1969 Al Fred Daniel of Jackson, Mississippi, was a forty-eight-year-old World War II veteran (he served in the British Royal Air Force as a ferry pilot and was a U.S. Navy aviator) and professional photographer. He became owner of the family photography business, the Daniel Studio, after the war; was production manager of WLBT-TV3 from 1953 to 1959; and owned and served as president of Standard Photo Company, Inc., until his retirement in 1987. He captured twenty-three black-and-white 3"x3" snapshots of Mississippi Gulf Coast residential and commercial damage after Camille.

John Walter Nicholson Jr. grew up in Jackson with Daniel (they were the same age and both attended Central High School) and also served in World War II (he was a retired major in the U.S. Army Reserves). Nicholson was active in the insurance and real estate development industries and St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Jackson. His forty-two 3½"x5" color photographs of Bay St. Louis, Biloxi, Long Beach, Gulfport, Mississippi City, and Pass Christian, Mississippi, represent the largest portion of the Hurricane Camille collection and include images of damaged homes, commercial properties, and churches, and resilient residents holding worship services outdoors.

Image Description

Captions provided by the U.S. Air Force for the Keesler photographs appear in quotation marks. All other images in the Camille Photograph Collection were described by the curator. Descriptions may be accessed through keyword search on the Web site and by subject headings through the MDAH online catalog.


National Hurricane Center, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. "Hurricane Camille - August 16-21, 1969," (accessed August 4, 2009).

National Hurricane Center, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. "Hurricane History: Hurricane Camille 1969," (accessed July 9, 2009).

Obituary of Al Fred Daniel, Northside Sun (Jackson, Miss.), December 26, 1996.

Obituary of John Walter Nicholson Jr., Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Miss.), March 7, 2004.

Office of History, Keesler Training Center, Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. 1991. A Short History of Keesler Air Force Base, 1941-1991.

United States Department of Commerce, Environmental Science Services, Weather Bureau. September 1969. "Preliminary Report on Hurricane Camille, August 14-22, 1969," (accessed August 4, 2009).