3.83 Cubic feet (8 binders containing contact sheets, slides, and prints; 7 boxes (8.5"x10.75"x2.5") of 35 mm negatives; 2 binders of 35 mm and 120 format negatives; and 1 box of 11 oversize prints.)
New York (N.Y.)
Saint Simons Island (Ga. : Island)
The Diana Davies photographs consist of images taken by Diana Davies at various stages of her career. Locations include the Festival of American Folklife, the Newport Folk Festival, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, the Poor People's Campaign, various peace and protest marches and outdoor performances, New York City, and the Georgia Sea Islands. The collection includes contact sheets, negatives, photographic prints, and slides.
Original photographs, negatives, and color slides taken by Diana Davies. Materials date from 1963-2009. Bulk dates: Newport Folk Festival, 1963-1969, 1987, 1992; Philadelphia Folk Festival, 1967-1968, 1987.
Scope and Contents:
The Diana Davies photographs, 1963-2009, consist of black and white negatives, contact sheets and prints, as well as color slides and negatives. The bulk of materials depict major festivals and protest movements (including the Poor People's March of 1968) documented by Diana Davies (located in Series 1: Newport Folk Festival, Series 2: Philadelphia Folk Festival, Series 6: Festival of American Folklife, and Series 11: Social Justice). Also well-represented are non-festival performances (in locations such as clubs, concert halls, and homes), recording sessions, and other music-related images, mainly of notable figures in the American folk music revival (located in Series 3: Broadside Magazine, Series 4: Sing Out! Magazine Concerts, Series 5: Miscellaneous Concerts and People, Series 7: Recording Sessions, Series 8: Instruction Book Shots, and Series 9: Jazz, Blues, and Salsa Musicians). Series 10: Georgia Sea Islands consists of photographs depicting the culture, environment, and daily life of these coastal islands in 1966. Series 12: New York City Scenes contains photographs taken on the street depicting everyday life in NYC in the 1960s and 1970s. The collection also contains related papers in Series 13: Miscellaneous Papers and Correspondence.
Each item in the Diana Davies Photographs has been assigned an accession number, and like materials have been put together such as the Newport Folk Festival photographs, in a chronological sequence as much as possible. Materials in the three more recent donation batches (1998, 2004, and 2006) were numbered and integrated into the collection. In some series, the accession numbers are in numerical order, and in others, the numbers are random because like items with different number sequences were pulled together in a series for subject coherence. The best way to find occurrences of a particular subject is to use the ctrl+F function. Please consult the archivists if you have any questions about the collection contents.
Contact sheets, slides, and prints arranged in 8 binders; negatives and oversize prints are stored separately.
Arranged in 14 series:
Series 1: Newport Folk Festival
Series 2: Philadelphia Folk Festival
Series 3: Broadside Magazine
Series 4: -- Sing Out! -- Magazine Concerts
Series 5: Miscellaneous Concerts and People
Series 6: Festival of American Folklife
Series 7: Recording Sessions
Series 8: Instruction Book Shots
Series 9: Jazz, Blues, and Salsa Musicians
Series 10: Georgia Sea Islands
Series 11: Social Justice
Series 12: New York City Scenes
Series 13: Miscellaneous Papers and Correspondence
Series 14: Oversize Materials
Diana Davies is a well-known photographer of folk performers and festivals. Davies photographed the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in its earlier years. Born in 1938, Davies grew up in Maine, the Catskills, New York City, and Boston. Her grandparents were local union organizers and Debs socialists; one grandfather was a gandy dancer with the railroad, and her grandmother was a textile worker in Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania. Davies finds that her family background was later expressed in her own activist efforts.
Davies left high school at 16, and worked sweeping out coffeehouses, which gave her the opportunity to listen to music while she worked. She became interested in theater and music. In Greenwich Village, she began doing some sound technician work, and then got interested in photography. She taught herself how to develop and print photographs in a darkroom, and began photographing in theaters, shooting from behind the scenes. Her theater photos are at Smith College in Northampton, where she presently lives. In the early 1960s, she began working with the editors of Broadside Magazine, Sis Cunningham and Gordon Friesen. She developed an interest in human rights work, which grew from her contact with Sis and Gordon, and also her own family background. She also worked as a photographer in a wide range of settings, including night clubs, weddings, and doing portrait photography. This led her to work for major national and international media including the New York Times, covering such events as the war in Biafra, and traveling to Mexico, Cuba, and Portugal on assignment.
Davies' folk photographs represent about one-quarter of her body of work; her other major photographic work includes the Civil Rights Movement, the Peace Movement, and theater. Davies began photographing at the Newport Folk Festival in 1964, which she covered for a number of years. She knew Ralph Rinzler, and found him a vibrant, alive person excited by all aspects of culture. He introduced her to Bessie Jones from the Georgia Sea Islands, and in 1966 she made a photographic journey to the islands. Her work from this trip is included in the collection. Davies has also been a musician. She became involved with the punk rock movement of the 1970s, and felt that there was a connection between the hard-hitting songs from the punk world and the songs being published in Broadside Magazine. In 1975, she became part of a folk/punk women's band in Boston, and later moved to Western Massachusetts. In addition to being a photographer and musician, Davies is also a writer. She wrote a play entitled "The Witch Papers" in 1980, which was produced in Boston and other locations. The play was a vehicle for her human rights activism, comparing the technology of inquisition with labor sweatshops. In 1998, her play "The War Machine" was produced in Amherst, Mass. She lives in Northampton, and enjoys and participates in street performance, which she describes as the "most essentially communicative stuff you can come up with."
All contact sheets from the collection are digitized and accessible through this finding aid. Series-level slideshows accessible through this finding aid represent a small sampling from the collection.
Shared Stewardship of Collections:
The Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage acknowledges and respects the right of artists, performers, Folklife Festival participants, community-based scholars, and knowledge-keepers to collaboratively steward representations of themselves and their intangible cultural heritage in media produced, curated, and distributed by the Center. Making this collection accessible to the public is an ongoing process grounded in the Center's commitment to connecting living people and cultures to the materials this collection represents. To view the Center's full shared stewardship policy, which defines our protocols for addressing collections-related inquiries and concerns, please visit https://folklife.si.edu/archives#shared-stewardship.
The Smithsonian Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections acquired portions of the Diana Davies Photograph Collection in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when Ms. Davies photographed for the Festival of American Folklife. More materials came to the Archives circa 1989 or 1990. Archivist Stephanie Smith visited her in 1998 and 2004, and brought back additional materials which Ms. Davies wanted to donate to the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections. These two more recent donations of additional photographs (contact sheets, prints, and slides) consisted of documentation of the Newport Folk Festival, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, the Poor People's March on Washington, the Civil Rights Movement, the Georgia Sea Islands, and miscellaneous personalities of the American folk revival. In a letter dated 12 March 2002, Ms. Davies gave full discretion to the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage to grant permission for both internal and external use of her photographs, with the provison that her work be credited in any use.
Access to the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections is by appointment only. Visit our website for more information on scheduling a visit or making a digitization request. Researchers interested in accessing born-digital records or audiovisual recordings in this collection must use access copies.