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Paul Vanderbilt papers

Vanderbilt, Paul  Search this
Graphic History Society of America  Search this
Library of Congress. Prints and Photographs Division  Search this
Philadelphia Museum of Art  Search this
State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Division of Archives and Manuscripts  Search this
Union Library Catalogue of the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area  Search this
United States. Farm Security Administration. Historical Section  Search this
Allen, Mary North  Search this
Blake, William  Search this
Conniff, Gregory, 1944-  Search this
Crane, Barbara, d1928-  Search this
Guthrie, Woody, 1912-1967  Search this
Haywood, Carl  Search this
Holzhueter, Jack  Search this
Lange, Dorothea  Search this
Lesy, Michael, 1945-  Search this
Newhall, Beaumont, 1908-1993  Search this
Pilling, Arnold R.  Search this
Plunkett, Jane  Search this
Shera, Jesse Hauk, 1903-1982  Search this
Stryker, Roy Emerson, 1893-1975  Search this
Talbot, George  Search this
Vanderbilt, Julia  Search this
25.2 Linear feet
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Sound recordings
bulk 1945-1992
The papers of librarian, curator, and photographer Paul Vanderbilt (1905-1992) measure 25.2 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.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of librarian, curator, and photographer Paul Vanderbilt (1905-1992) measure 25.2 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.
The collection is arranged as 10 series.

Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1894-1992 (0.5 linear feet; Box 1)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1933-1992 (1.5 linear feet; Box 1-2)

Series 3: Interviews, 1967-1992 (1.5 linear feet; Box 2-4)

Series 4: Writings and Notes, 1887-1992 (4.0 linear feet; Box 4-8)

Series 5: Diaries, 1926-1990 (0.5 linear feet; Box 8)

Series 6: Reference Files, 1877-1992 (2.5 linear feet; Box 8-10, 26)

Series 7: Project Files, 1935-1990 (3.0 linear feet; Box 10-13)

Series 8: Professional Files, 1854-1991 (11.7 linear feet; Box 13-24)

Series 9: Photographic Materials, 1912-1980s (0.5 linear feet; Box 24)

Series 10: Sound Recordings, circa 1980s (0.5 linear feet; Box 24-25)
Biographical / Historical:
Paul Vanderbilt (1905-1992) was a librarian, curator, and photographer active in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C. and Madison, Wisconsin.

Paul Vanderbilt was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts and educated in Germany, Switzerland, and Massachusetts. He attended Amherst College from 1923 to 1925 before transferring to Harvard where he graduated with a BA in art history in 1927. After graduation, Vanderbilt traveled to Europe where he studied at the American School of Librarianship in Paris and the Institut de Psychologie Bibliogique in Lausanne. In 1929, he returned to the United States and became a librarian at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and director of the Union Library Catalog project for the Philadelphia area.

In 1941 Vanderbilt began working under Roy Stryker cataloging the extensive photographic survey collection of the Farm Security Administration and U.S. Office of War Information. The collection is a rich resource of images of American life between 1935 and 1944. In 1943, the FSA photograph collection was transferred to the Library of Congress and Vanderbilt went with it as the curator of the newly formed Prints and Photographs Division, eventually becoming the Division chief of fine arts.

During the early 1950s, Vanderbilt also served as the director of the Graphic History Society of America. There he published a quarterly bulletin Eye to Eye and developed a guide to iconography in Iran. In 1954, he became the Curator of Iconographic Collections at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin and worked there until he retired in 1972.

Vanderbilt remained active after retirement. He became an artist-in-residence at the Apeiron Workshops, worked as a photographer for the Seagram courthouse project and the George Eastman House, and was a presenter at multiple conferences. Vanderbilt devoted much of his later life to working on his book titled Between the Landscape and its Other which was published posthumously after Vanderbilt's death in 1992.
Related Materials:
Also found at the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with Paul Vanderbilt conducted by Richard Doud on November 10, 1964.
The collection was donated in 1981 by Paul Vanderbilt and in 1993 by his estate through John W. Winn, executor.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Washington, D.C. Research Center. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
The Paul Vanderbilt papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Art historians -- United States  Search this
Curators -- United States  Search this
Documentary photography -- United States  Search this
Photography  Search this
Photomicrography  Search this
Graphic arts -- Historiography  Search this
Graphic arts -- Iran  Search this
Librarians  Search this
Photographers  Search this
Sound recordings
Paul Vanderbilt papers, 1854-1992, bulk 1945-1992. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
Paul Vanderbilt papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
Additional Online Media:

Particulars : selections from the Miller-Plummer collection of photography / edited and introduction by Robert A. Sobieszek ; with a statement by Harvey S. Shipley Miller and J. Randall Plummer

Sobieszek, Robert A. 1943-  Search this
Miller, Harvey S. Shipley  Search this
Plummer, J. Randall  Search this
International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House  Search this
Philadelphia Museum of Art  Search this
Wellesley College Museum  Search this
Physical description:
60 p. : ill. ; 28 cm
Photography, Artistic  Search this
Call number:
TR646.U6R637 1983X
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries

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