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Just About “Ready for Research” 

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The following is a guest post by Helena Zinkham, Chief, and Aliza Leventhal, Head, Technical Services, both of the Prints & Photographs Division.

Gloria Vanderbilt. Color slide by Toni Frissell, February 1966.

So many exciting collections are in the pipeline for routine access that it’s time for a look ahead. The Prints & Photographs Division works on about 20 “processing” projects at a time in order to make more collections readily available to researchers and reduce the arrearage of unprocessed collections that have to be served by appointment. To complete close to 10 projects and 400,000 items each year, we organize, rehouse, label, describe, and digitize a wide variety of visual materials every day.

First, some breaking news. Two more collections launched this week!

Toni Frissell Photograph Collection, 1930s-1960s. The most popular topics among her almost 440,000 prints, contact sheets, black-and-white negatives, and color transparencies include scenes with the Tuskegee Airmen in Italy during World War II, outdoor fashion photography, and portraits of famous people. All 52,000 of her color transparencies are now online.

Dietrich Hecht Collection of Bilderbogen. These 6,000 picture sheets known as Bilderbogen, Imagerie d’Epinal, and Lubok prints were issued by German, French, Russian, Spanish, and other European publishers. Produced for entertainment, education, and decoration, Bilderbogen date primarily from the mid-1800s to World War I. The prints are often in bright colors and show multiple images on the same sheet of paper to portray a fairytale or historical event in narrative frames with a short text. Among the common topics and genres are religious, military battle, and sentimental scenes; portraits and caricatures; and landscape and city views. Also of interest are the puppets (pantins), theater sets, and soldier figures to cut out and play with; game boards, bull’s eye targets and coloring sheets; silhouettes and shadow pictures; and adages and signs. Bound volumes of Münchener Bilderbogen are also included. (The finding aid lists each print and about 100 items are being digitized.)

Der gestiefelte Kater (Puss in Boots). Print by Moritz von Schwind, 1850. In Münchener Bilderbogen, vol. 2, no. 48.


Goodman Archive of Architectural Designs, 1935-1987. This collection offers more than 14,300 original drawings. Included are some 400 projects for residential, educational, government, and corporate structures, chiefly in the Washington, D.C., region. Prior to World War II, Charles M. Goodman was a leading designer of such government buildings as the Federal Building at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. In the post-war period he did much to define the form of the American house in the 1950s and 1960s. Among his most famous projects is the Hollin Hills Usonian style housing development in Alexandria, Virginia, designed with landscape architects Dan Kiley and Bernard Voigt. Goodman was also at the forefront of experimentation in new building technologies and materials, including pre-fabricated and precast construction and the use of aluminum. (About 400 items will be digitized in the coming year.)

Proposal for modular housing (prefab aluminum housing). Drawing by Charles M. Goodman, 1940.

Mission Gráfica/La Raza Graphics collection, 1970-2010. The more than 1,300 artist prints, posters, portfolios, zines, manuscripts, and ephemera in this collection were created at the Mission Gráfica and La Raza printmaking workshop collectives in San Francisco, California. The collection features screen prints, woodcuts, offset lithographs, and posters with content related to social, political, and cultural identity issues as well as community concerns and events; art, music, and performance; civil rights, women’s rights, and war; and the Chicano Movement and Latino heritage. Among the artists are Juan Fuentes, Jos Sances, Jesus Barraza, René Castro, Enrique Chagoya, Xavier Viramontes, Art Hazelwood, Alexandra Blum, Emmanuel C. Montoya, and Calixto Robles. (The close to 1,200 prints have been digitized and the catalog records are being enriched to include more subject information.)

Mission Grafica. Print by Juan Fuentes, between 1980 and 2010.

Before processing each collection, an archivist surveys and analyzes the material in consultation with curators, reference librarians, and technical services colleagues. Considerations include the inherent value of the content, the rights status, the physical condition, and the resources needed. The full set of considerations is available in a handy “Checklist to Plan the Processing of Pictorial Collections.” (PDF)

Other projects underway this summer include the following collections, and postcards and the Blackburn Printmaking Workshop Collection are already on the slate for next year :

It’s also worth noting that newly digitized items are added to the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog every week.  Here’s a special search that lets you see the most recently digitized pictures and updated catalog records at the start of the gallery display.

Learn More:

Comments (4)

  1. hi , I was excited to see this archive created and acknowledged and the inclusion (as a ‘student work’) of my poster in the Mission Gráfica collection. Thank you for preserving this collection, an important part of history and great community art

    My poster is #157 @ this URL:

    …a poster for a performance action at the old I-Hotel site, commemorating a long community struggle against the eviction and demolition of a Filipino community SRO-hotel, housing mostly elders. This poster and the commemoration action were done in 1987 when i worked with Jos Sances @ a community screenprinting class.
    I would ask for artist’s attribution as either Bob or Robert E. Thawley (the indecipherible signature cited)… Thank you !

  2. It’s great to hear from you Bob and we are excited to make this amazing collection more discoverable in our online catalog! Thank you for the chance to add your name to our online record. You can already see the update here:

    Would love to be in touch by Ask a Librarian if you’re willing, with news and a follow up question for you!

    With thanks and best wishes, Katherine

    Katherine Blood
    Curator, Fine Prints

  3. Nice to see the variety of collections newly available !

  4. Nice to hear from you Verna and hope all is great with you. I just recently shared one of your past Picture This blog posts with a researcher colleague. We miss you here. Warm wishes, Katherine

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