Library of Congress.Prints and Photographs Division
Philadelphia Museum of Art
State Historical Society of Wisconsin.Division of Archives and Manuscripts
Union Library Catalogue of the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area
United States. Farm Security Administration. Historical Section
Place of publication, production, or execution:
26.2 linear feet
Access Note / Rights:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
The papers of librarian, curator, and photographer Paul Vanderbilt (1905-1992) measure 26.2 linear feet and date from 1854 to 1992 with the bulk of the material dating from 1945 to 1992. The papers are comprised of biographical materials, personal and business correspondence, interviews, writings and notes, fourteen diaries and two diary fragments, reference and project files, photographic materials, sound recordings, and professional files.
Biographical materials include seven appointment books, family letters and documents, and an honorary degree from the University of Wisconsin.
Vanderbilt's correspondence is with colleagues, and organizations including Dorothea Lange, Beaumont Newhall, Roy Stryker, and Julia Vanderbilt.
Sound recordings of interviews of Vanderbilt conducted by Mary North Allen, Barbara Crane, Carl Haywood, Jack Holzhueter, and Jane Plunkett. Other recordings are of Vanderbilt discussing his personal and professional life.
Writings by Paul Vanderbilt include drafts of "Between the Landscape and its Other," poems, lectures, student papers, and notes on a variety of subjects. Writings by others are found for William Blake, Gregory Conniff, Woody Guthrie, Michael Lesy, Arnold R. Pilling, Jesse H. Shera, and Roy Stryker.
Fourteen of Vanderbilt's personal diaries and two diary fragments date from 1926 to 1990.
Reference files consist of printed materials on art, art historians, book reviews, library and information studies, photography and microphotography techniques, and other themes of interest to Vanderbilt. Project files include material from Vanderbilt's various projects including a guide to the iconography of Iran, the reclassification of FSA photographs, and the Union Library Catalog of Philadelphia.
Included in professional files are administrative records, correspondence, exhibition files, project files, printed material, and research files created during Vanderbilt's career at the Library of Congress, Graphic History Society, State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Farm Security Administration. Also found are materials for Vanderbilt's work as a consultant for several organizations, lecture documents, and art-related workshops.
Photographs are by and of Paul Vanderbilt, the staff of the Library of Congress, and George Talbot. Negatives include images for the Farm Security Administration. Bibliography cards and photographs of artwork from the Library of Congress can be found on microfilm reels within the collection.
Also found are fourteen unidentified sound recordings.
Paul Vanderbilt papers, 1854-1992, bulk 1945-1992. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Some of the sound recordings in this collection have been copied for research access and digital copies are available in the Archives of American Art offices.
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Smithsonian Institution Collections Care and Preservation Fund.
Also found at the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with Paul Vanderbilt conducted by Richard Doud on November 10, 1964.
Paul Vanderbilt (1905-1992) was a librarian, curator, and photographer of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and Madison, Wisconsin. Vanderbilt's work in bibliographic control, led Roy Stryker, of the Farm Security Administration's Historical Section (later the Office of War Information), to hire Vanderbilt to arrange and classify the vast FSA-OWI photographs. When the collection was transferred to the Library of Congress in 1944, Vanderbilt went with it as Curator of the newly formed Prints and Photographs Division. He remained at LC until 1954, when he left to join the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, where he established the Iconography division. He became a photographer himself toward the later part of his career.
Donated 1981 by Paul Vanderbilt, and in 1993 by his estate through John W. Winn, executor.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001