The FfPP Collecting Institutions list is a growing reference to guide you in your research of photographic archives. Many more regional and specialty archives exist all over the world. Additional links to broader archival repositories can be found at the bottom of this list.
The Archive of Documentary Arts is part of Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Its mission is to collect, promote, preserve, and provide access to audio, moving images, photography, and text from around the world related to the documentary endeavor for the purpose of inspiring reflection, research, creative expression, and dialogue in this moment, and for generations to come.
The Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study-Harvard University
10 Garden Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone: (617) 495-8647
The Schlesinger Library holdings date from the founding of the United States to the present and include more than 3,200 manuscript collections, 100,000 volumes of books and periodicals, and films, photos, and audiovisual material. The Schlesinger Library holds more than 150,000 images, including all varieties of photographic and photomechanical formats, as well as some original graphic material. The images represent the work of both professional and amateur artistic and documentary photographers.
The Bancroft Library
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94704
Phone: (510) 642-3781
The Bancroft Library has the second largest pictorial collection at a research institution in the nation. Its Pictorial Collection of 9.2 million items is surpassed in size only by that of the Library of Congress. Consisting primarily of photographic negatives and prints, the Bancroft collection also includes paintings, prints, drawings, posters, and advertising memorabilia. The photography collection at Bancroft spans the history of the medium from early cased photographs—including daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes—to contemporary digital images. The collection contains photographs by renowned photographers such as Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange and the photographic archives of lesser known but important documentary photographers such as Michelle Vignes and Chauncey Hare. Also significant and of great import are the many thousands of photographs, snapshots, and family photograph albums made by amateur photographers over the past 160 years, which provide researchers with a wide-ranging view of daily events, family life, and leisure activities.
The CHS Collection represents the environmental, economic, social, political, and cultural heritage of the entire state, including materials from outside California that contribute to a greater understanding of the state and its people.
The CMP’s photography collection exceeds 20,000 images that were created by over 1,000 photographers. The museum cares for vintage works by such artists as Ansel Adams, Yolanda Andrade, Manuel Alvarez-Bravo, Walker Evans, Francis Frith, Danny Lyon, Barbara Morgan, Albert Renger-Patzsch, and Carleton Watkins. Some of the other artists represented in this collection are: Berenice Abbott, Eugene Atget, Larry Clark, Linda Connor, William Eggleston, Robert Frank, Flor Garduño, Philippe Halsman, Lewis Hine, Gertrude Kasebier, Kusakabe Kimbei, Mary Ellen Mark, Susan Meiselas, Pedro Meyer, Olivia Parker, Holly Roberts, and Garry Winogrand. In addition to its fine art collections, the California Museum of Photography holds extensive archival collections including the Keystone-Mast Collection, which is comprised of over 250,000 original stereoscopic negatives and 100,000 photographic prints. The original glass and film negatives form a vital primary record of worldwide social, cultural, industrial, agricultural historicity between 1860 and 1950. Several negative archives include 7,000 by Ansel Adams from the Sweeney/Rubin Ansel Adams Fiat Lux Collection, 500 architectural photographs by Robert Cleveland, and 15,000 negatives by Los Angeles photographer, teacher and critic Will Connell.
The California History Section holds a premier collection of documents from and about California’s rich history. Our vaults house thousands of rare books, maps, newspapers, and periodicals in addition to a huge collection of one-of-a-kind photographs, letters, and ephemeral items such as posters, pamphlets and sheet music.
Beginning with the archives of five living master photographers—Ansel Adams, Wynn Bullock, Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, and Frederick Sommer—the collection has grown to include 239 archival collections. In addition to whole archival collections the Center also actively acquired individual photographs by modern and contemporary photographers. The combined art, archival, and research collections at the Center provide an unparalleled resource for research, exhibitions, loans, and traveling exhibitions.
The Environmental Design Archives (EDA) is a non-profit research facility within the College of Environmental Design at the University of California, Berkeley committed to raising awareness of the architectural, landscape, and design heritage of Northern California and beyond, through collecting, preserving, and providing access to primary records of the built and designed environment.
The photography collection at the George Eastman Museum, among the oldest and best in the world, comprises more than 400,000 photographic objects dating from the introduction of the medium in 1839 through to the present day. It encompasses works made in all major photographic processes, from daguerreotype to digital, includes work by more than eight thousand photographers, and continues to expand. The Eastman Museum is actively building our collections, with an emphasis on photographic and moving image works by contemporary artists from many cultures to complement our great strength in works from the past.
The archives of the GLBT Historical Society contain approximately 800 collections of personal papers, photographs, audiovisual recordings, and organizational records. These collections include unpublished material such as letters, diaries and scrapbooks documenting the lives of both average people and community leaders. The archives hold over 70 linear feet of ephemera; 5,000 periodical titles; tens of thousands of photographs; thousands of posters; more than 500 oral histories; approximately 1,000 hours of recorded sound; and approximately 1,000 hours of film and video. The GLBT Historical Society focuses its collections on gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer life in the wider San Francisco Bay area and Northern California. Currently, we are seeking accessions to fill particular gaps in our holdings. We seek materials documenting LGBT life prior to the 1970s, as well as LGBT people of color, lesbian and bisexual women of all social/cultural backgrounds, LGBT working class communities, and bisexual and transgender people.
The cornerstone of the photography collection is the renowned Gernsheim collection, which is best known for its treasures of nineteenth-century photography, including the earliest known surviving photograph, a unique image created in 1826 or 1827 by the French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. Since that landmark acquisition, the photography collection has expanded into such diverse areas as fine art, photojournalism, documentary photography, the history of photography, and its technology. These holdings currently amount to over five million prints and negatives, supplemented by books, manuscripts, journals, and ephemera of significant photographers since the medium’s invention.
The Huntington has traditionally collected the work of noted photographers, most of whom were professionally active at the end of the nineteenth century and into the beginning of the twentieth. The collection contains significant bodies of work by Carleton Watkins, Carl Moon, Frederick Monsen, Edward Curtis, Alfred A. Hart, F. Jay Haynes, William Henry Jackson, Adam Clark Vroman, Andrew Russell, Eadweard Muybridge, C.C. Pierce, Frances Benjamin Johnston and others. In recent years The Huntington has acquired the collections of several commercial photographers whose work documents various phases in the history of Southern California and elsewhere. These include the J. Allen Hawkins Collection of Pasadena (1910-1960), the “Dick” Whittington Collection of the development of southern California in the post WWII boom years, the B.D. Jackson Collection depicting the developing suburbs of Los Angeles, the Henry G. Peabody Collection, and the Maynard Parker Collection.
Cornell Capa founded ICP in 1974 to preserve the legacy of “concerned photography”—the creation of socially and politically minded images that have the potential to educate and change the world—and the center’s mission endures today, even as the photographic medium and image making practices have evolved. Our permanent collection contains more than 200,000 prints and related materials that range from the earliest forms of photography to contemporary work.
The Getty Museum’s collection has been broadened, strengthened, and enlarged in the years since J. Paul Getty’s death, and at present encompasses art of the ancient Greek, Roman, and Etruscan world; European paintings, sculpture, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, and decorative arts created before 1900; photography from the inception of that medium to the present day; and a select group of modern and contemporary works of art, mainly European and American outdoor sculpture. From time to time, the Board of Trustees may authorize acquisition of extraordinary works of art outside the scope of these general categories.
Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
The Library of Congress
101 Independence Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20540
Phone: (202) 707-5000
The Library’s collection building activities are extremely broad, covering virtually every discipline and field of study, including the entire range of different forms of publication and media for recording and storing knowledge, with the exception of technical agriculture, clinical medicine, and unpublished foreign doctoral dissertations (where it yields to the National Agricultural Library, the National Library of Medicine, and the Center for Research Libraries, respectively). The Library’s goal is to formulate statements which are sufficiently inclusive to ensure this broad coverage, yet specific enough to serve the particular needs of the Library’s varied clienteles.
The Museum is committed to broadening the visual arts by constantly searching for new national and international talent to exhibit rather than simply following suit established by larger institutions. To this end, the museum’s programming guides the public to a greater understanding of thought-provoking contemporary photography as well as an appreciation for traditional work that has not yet received critical acclaim.
The Photographs Collection at the Museum of the City of New York consists of more than 400,000 prints and negatives that document New York City and its inhabitants from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. The collection is a major repository of several noted photographers, including Jacob Riis, whose photographs reveal the Lower East Side’s poverty and squalor in the late nineteenth century; Jessie Tarbox Beals’s depictions of turn-of-the century bohemian life in Greenwich Village; and Berenice Abbott’s stunning Changing New York, a WPA photographic project that documents New York City in the 1930s. Additionally, the Museum’s voluminous holdings incorporates the LOOK Magazine photographic archives featuring photographers such as Stanley Kubrick, John Vachon, and Arthur Rothstein; and includes the work of commercial photographic firms such as Irving Underhill, the Wurts Brothers, Gottscho-Schleisner, and photographic work commissioned by the architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White. More contemporary holdings include work that examines the city’s built environment since the 1950s, including more than 60 photographs from Danny Lyon’s Destruction of Lower Manhattan series from the late 1960s, a collection of city views by Camilo Jose Vergara, and more 1,000 architectural views of New York by Edmund Gillon during the 1970s and 80s. The lives of New Yorkers on the city streets are documented through the eyes of photographers such as Harry Callahan, Martha Cooper, Leonard Freed, Ed Grazda, and Jeff Mermelstein.
The Museum of Modern Art Archives is an internationally recognized research center for modern and contemporary art. The Archives collects, preserves, and makes accessible nearly 90 years’ worth of the Museum’s historical records, 40 years’ worth of MoMA PS1 records, and other primary source documents concerning art and cultural history in the 20th and 21st centuries, including private archives and papers of artists, galleries, dealers, art historians, critics, and others. The holdings also include an extensive Photographic Archive and interviews conducted as part of the Archives Oral History Program. An essential resource for scholars, students, curators, conservators, writers, journalists, artists, and Museum staff, the Archives plays a crucial role in fulfilling MoMA’s mission as an educational institution.
New York Public Library Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs
476 Fifth Avenue (42nd St and Fifth Ave)
Third Floor, Room 308
New York, NY 10018
Phone: (212) 930-0837
The Photography Collection of the New York Public Library comprises approximately 500,000 photographs, including examples of almost every photographic process from the earliest daguerreotypes to contemporary digital images. To explore our holdings, please consult our online catalog.
The Oakland History Room is an important center for the study of the history and current development of the East Bay. Its collection contains a wide variety of materials relating to the history of Oakland and the larger Bay Area, including books, magazines, pamphlets, newspaper clippings, photographs, postcards, sheet music, trade catalogs, and scrapbooks.
Our collection is diverse and always growing and some of the most valuable items in our collection were donated. The Museum & Library collects artifacts, books, journals, scrapbooks, service papers, letters home, photographs, cruise books, original posters, medals, etc. These items have special value and the power to tell the stories of the men and women who served our country. They help future generations to understand the meaning of sacrifice and selfless service.
We maintain a collection of photography spanning the medium’s history, as well as several artist and journalism archives. The RIC’s collection offers researchers the remarkable opportunity to study firsthand works by a diverse group of internationally-renowned photographers.
The SFAI archives contain a wealth of primary source material pertaining to art, culture, and American arts education in the 19th through the 21st centuries. The archival collection includes manuscripts, account books, minutes, photographs, broadsides, clipping files, and ephemera documenting the history of the San Francisco Art Association (1871–1961), the California School of Design (1874–1916), the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art (1893–1906), the San Francisco Institute of Art (1907–1916), the California School of Fine Arts (1916–1961), the San Francisco Museum of Art (1916–1935), the Palace of Fine Arts (1915–1924), and the San Francisco Art Institute (1961–Present).
We invite people to see and understand the world in new ways through photography, from its origins in the nineteenth century to the present day. SFMOMA was one of the first American museums to recognize photography as an art form, and its pioneering commitment continues to deepen as new generations and evolving technologies expand the definition of the medium. The largest collecting area in the museum, photography has been an integral part of SFMOMA since its founding in 1935, due to the formative presence of Bay Area artists such as Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Edward Weston, and Imogen Cunningham.
The San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection contains photographs and works on papers of San Francisco and California scenes ranging from 1850 to the present. This collection includes views of San Francisco street scenes, buildings, and neighborhoods, as well as photographs of famous San Francisco personalities. The collection consists mostly of the photo morgue of the San Francisco News-Call Bulletin, a daily newspaper, ranging from 1920s to 1965. The collection also contains albums, slides, postcards, cabinet cards, stereoviews, and lantern slides of San Francisco and California subjects.
The Seaver Center for Western History Research is the two-dimensional and flat objects collection area of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Our purpose is to collect, preserve, and make available to the general public research materials documenting the history of the trans-Mississippi West, with special emphasis on Southern California and Los Angeles. Historic records include manuscript materials, books, serials, pamphlets, broadsides, maps, posters, prints, and photographs. There are approximately 290 photograph collections. The photographic holdings comprise more than 300,000 images recorded on different photographic media, such as daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, glass and cellulose negatives, and a variety of paper prints.
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
1400 Constitution Ave NW,
Washington, DC 20560
Phone: (844) 750-3012
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. It was established by Act of Congress in 2003, following decades of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans. To date, the Museum has collected more than 36,000 artifacts and nearly 100,000 individuals have become members. The Museum opened to the public on September 24, 2016, as the 19th and newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution.
University of California Santa Cruz-Special Collections
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
Phone: (831) 459-4000
Special Collections’ exceptionally strong photographic collections began with a gift in the late 1960s of Edward Weston’s project prints. The photographic collections, now numbering close to half a million items, have continued to grow through the acquisition and archival gifts of works by important contemporary photographers working in both the documentary and fine art tradition. Additionally, Special Collections has approximately 50,000 local historic photographs. Selected photographers whose work is represented in Special Collections include: Ansel Adams, Pirkle Jones, Morley Baer, Ruth-Marion Baruch, and Wynn Bullock.
University of Washington Libraries-Special Collections
Seattle, WA 98105
Nicolette Bromberg-Visual Materials Curator
Phone: (206) 685-2968
The Historical Visual Materials Collections contain a variety of research materials such as photographs, architectural plans, postcards, historical maps, artwork and ephemera. Most of the items relate to various aspects of the Pacific Northwest, its history, geography, arts, and industries. Over 1,000,000 documentary images covering an extensive geographical area, in particular western Washington, Alaska, and the Yukon. Examples include black-and-white photographic prints and negatives, glass lantern slides, and 35mm film color slides, along with unusual and rare photographic formats, such as stereocards and daguerreotypes.We collect the life work of photographers and are interested in working with end/almost end career photographers who want to find a home for their work. The Pacific Northwest Photographers Archive contains photographic work of the region, as well as the archives of photographers based in, or working in, the Pacific Northwest.
526 West 26th Street, Suite 718
New York, NY 10001, USA
Phone: +1 212 352 0683
The Walther Collection is an art foundation dedicated to the critical understanding of historical and contemporary photography and related media. Through a program of international exhibitions, in-depth collecting, original research, and scholarly publications, The Walther Collection aims to highlight the social uses of photography and to expand the history of the medium worldwide. The Walther Collection presents thematic and monographic exhibitions drawn from its expansive range of photography and media art from the collection’s African, Chinese, Japanese, and European holdings of modern and contemporary works, nineteenth-century photography from Europe and Africa, and vernacular lens-based imagery from across the globe. The collection’s educational program is complemented by public lectures and screenings, international scholarly symposia, and a critically acclaimed series of catalogues and monographs co-published by Steidl.
The Wittliff Southwestern & Mexican Photography Collection
Texas State University
601 University Dr.
San Marcos, TX 78666-4604
Phone: (512) 245-2313
An impressive treasury of more than 19,000 images of the Southwest and Mexico, ranging from historical images to 20th-century masters and emerging 21st-century artists. The Wittliff boasts the finest holdings of documentary photography and photojournalism by Mexican photographers in the United States. The Wittliff highlights its photography collections throughout the year with special exhibitions, several of which are available for loan to other museums. The collection is also available for viewing and research by appointment.