“Washington, D.C. Mrs. Ella Watson, a government charwoman, receiving annointment from Reverend Clara Smith during the “flower bowl demonstration,” a service held once a year at the St. Martin’s Spiritual Church. Reverend Vondell Gassaway is the pastor” was photographed by Gordon Parks in 1942. Ella was a grandmother helping her daughter raise her three children.

This is a photo of Ella at St. Martin’s Spiritual Church, “which was the subject of more photographs than any other aspect of Watson’s life. In the photograph of Watson being anointed at the altar, a double exposure adds the ghostly figure of another parishioner and Reverend Gassaway. The double exposure may have been an accident, but the photograph’s suggestion of the spirituality of the service is effective.[1]

[1] https://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/fsa/docchap7.html

Permission by: https://www.loc.gov/collections/fsa-owi-black-and-white-negatives/articles-and-essays/documenting-america/ella-watson-united-states-government-chairwoman/