Known to her friends as “A-Fay,” Alma Fay Horn was a fixture of the Kentucky Avenue nightclub scene. Kentucky Avenue nightclub culture was about seeing and being seen, and there was no better way to be seen than to be photographed by Alma Fay Horn.
Alma Fay Horn was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 9, 1924. In Philadelphia, Alma became a well regarded nightlife photographer. At a time when it was uncommon for a woman – let alone an African American woman – to be a small business owner, she maintained her own photography studio. Alma must have seen great opportunity in the Kentucky Avenue scene; at some point during the Kentucky Avenue heyday, she resolved to move to Atlantic City.
Upon arriving in Atlantic City, Alma established herself as the Club Harlem photographer. She captured some of Club Harlem’s most famous performers including the Billy Williams Quintet, the George Hudson Band, Butterbeans and Susie, and Louis Armstrong. Though some of her photographs are posed, Alma’s artistic style hinged largely upon capturing candid moments – musicians and dancers performing, friends laughing at the Club Harlem bar.
After the popularity of the Club Harlem waned, and Kentucky Avenue’s reign as Atlantic City’s hotspot ended, Alma Fay Horn rededicated her life to technology and golf. She worked with the FAA Technical Center and other government agencies as a computer programmer, and she held the position of President of the Freeway Golf Course in Sicklerville, New Jersey.
Alma Fay Horn died in Atlantic City on September 25, 2004.
Resources in the Atlantic City Free Public Library Atlantic City Heritage Collections:
H008 Alma Fay Horn Photograph Collection
Local History Biography File: Alma Fay Horn