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Image shows cased daguerreotype. Red velvet visible on inside of case, and portrait of Christiana Williams Freeman visible in image on right side, inside gold frame.
Christiana Williams Freeman, ancestor of Robert McNeill on his mother’s side. Daguerreotype, around 1855. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.86803

Ready for Research: Three Photography Archives

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The following is a guest post by Helena Zinkham, Chief, Prints & Photographs Division.

The extensive photography archives of Ralph Ellison, Robert McNeill, and Bob Adelman are now ready for your attention! We also offer you a new and detailed finding aid to the Tobacco Cards from the Benjamin K. Edwards Collection and more rights-free historical Trademark design drawings. A forecast of collections “Coming Soon” is at the end of the post.

Visual materials from the Ralph Ellison papers – 23,000 items; 1890-1996, bulk 1930-1990

Ralph Ellison (1914-1994) is best known as an author. This collection reveals his many talents as a photographer. Ellison explored the world visually by making portraits of his wife Fanny McConnell Ellison, taking snapshots of his garden and dog, capturing views of New York City from his window, and experimenting with such media as instant photographs (Polaroids). You can also see coverage of identified authors, artists, and civil rights activists (about 25 folders), and daily street life in New York City (about 30 folders). A detailed finding aid can introduce you to the full sweep of the collection. More than 250 images are online, though not available to download outside of the Library campus due to copyright considerations.

View of three black-and-white photographs featuring Ralph and Fanny Ellison and their do
Collage view of photographs from the Visual materials from the Ralph Ellison papers, LOT 15601, Container 1. Photo by Prints & Photographs Division staff, 2024.

Robert H. McNeill family collection – 40,000 items; 1840-2000, bulk 1930-1980

This collection of photographic prints, negatives, slides, photo albums, and cameras documents over 150 years of African American leadership and life in Washington D.C. Consisting primarily of photographs by Robert H. McNeill (1917-2005), an African American photographer, the images range from his time as a student at Howard University, local portraiture and photojournalism from operating his freelance news service, work from the Federal Writer’s Project titled “The Negro in Virginia,” his World War II military service in Alabama and Guadalcanal, and work as a U.S. military staff photographer and portrait photographer for the State Department. The collection also contains photographs and cabinet cards from William Henry Richards, a family friend of McNeill’s father, and additional family photographs and albums from McNeill’s parents, Mary Alice (Wheeler) and William C. McNeill. The finding aid and a growing selection of digitized images open the doors to this special collection.

Image shows cased daguerreotype. Red velvet visible on inside of case, and portrait of Christiana Williams Freeman visible in image on right side, inside gold frame.
Christiana Williams Freeman, ancestor of Robert McNeill on his mother’s side. Daguerreotype, around 1855. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.86803

Bob Adelman Photograph Archive540,000 items; 1950-2000, bulk 1950-1980

The archive of documentary photographer and photojournalist Bob Adelman (1931-2016) offers users a wide range of images illustrating life in America in the mid-to-late 20th century. As a photographer for the Congress of Racial Equality, he was an integral part of documenting many of the most important events and personalities of the civil rights movement from 1954 to 1968. Adelman also photographed themes of poverty, education, and culture, as well as famous artists and writers, and underrepresented communities. The archive includes iconic images and supports the in-depth study of Adelman’s life and career and American photojournalism. An extensive finding aid covers the collection in detail. More than 50 individual photographs are online,  though not available to download outside of the Library campus due to copyright considerations.

Black-and-white photo shows seven rows of about a dozen people each in stadium-style seating arrangement.
People Wall, World’s Fair, New York, 1965. Photo © by Bob Adelman, 1965. https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2022636292/. Used with permission

Also New

Coming Soon

Processing projects due to wrap up in the coming year include the following significant collections. All quantities and dates are approximate.

We’re well underway with these major collections, too.

Learn More:

 

 

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