Photographs & Visual Materials

Java, 1948.
Niels Douwes Dekker. Java, 1948. Gelatin silver print photograph.

In addition to manuscript and rare book holdings, Cornell's Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections has major holdings of visual materials. These collections include photographs, film and videotape, posters and broadsides, watercolors, prints, and other graphics.

Photographic collections consist of still photographs: daguerreotypes, tintypes, stereographs, cyanotypes, cartes de visite and cabinet cards, lantern slides, and glass plate negatives, as well as modern prints and negatives. Specific collections of note are those of Arthur Allen (ornithology), Gerow D. Brill (China and the Philippines), Niels Douwes Dekker (Indonesia), Bill Fendall (Vietnam War), Francois-Jules Harmand (Southeast Asia), Frederick Howell (Iceland), Gustav E. Kappler (Vietnam War), Hedda Morrison (Sarawak), John Nolen (city planning), Leslie Severinghaus (China), Ellen Shipman (landscape architecture), George Bernard Shaw (theater), and Willard Straight (China). The Andrew Dickson White Architectural Photographs form a collection of approximately 12,000 nineteenth- and early twentieth-century photographs of American, European and Middle Eastern architecture and sculpture. For more information about the collection and to view the image database, see the A. D. White Architectural Photographs web site. Two general collections include the 100,000 items documenting the history of the university from 1868 to the present, and a regional collection which includes lithographs and photographs.

Motion picture holdings exceed 2,600 reels; topics of note include Cornell University, agriculture, early-day Ithaca, national politics, and human sexuality. Over 450 reels of film and 275 video tapes document the career of noted psychologist, Dr. Joyce Brothers. For more information about our media collections, please visit the Media & Digital Collections page.

Significant collections of paintings include a set of fifteenth century woodcuts and engravings of portraits of reformers and satirical political cartoons in the collection on Luther and the Protestant Reformation. There is a group of over 1,000 prints and portraits, a number hand-colored, in the French Revolution Collection, including sensational depictions of events from the Revolution to Napoleon, satirical portraits, and vicious attacks. Watercolors include a set of eighteenth and nineteenth century Chinese paintings created for the export to England and America, preliminary sketches and watercolors of birds and animals by natural history artist and illustrator Louis Agassiz Fuertes, and Gene Sogioka's watercolors documenting life in a Japanese-American Relocation Center during World War II. There are pen-and-ink and other drawings of Chinese subjects by Willard D. Straight. The works of artists and illustrators Anna Botsford Comstock, Elfriede Abbe, and Hendrik W. van Loon are also represented. There is also a set of colored lithographs of flowering plants and bulbs distributed from 1859 to 1895 by the French seed company, Vilmorin-Andrieux et Cie.

There are numerous architectural drawings and blueprints by architects and planners including Bryant Fleming, Charles Dowing Lay, John Nolen, Jo Ray, Ellen Shipman, and Clarence Stein, as well as the Cooper Collection of drawing relating to nineteenth century American railroad bridges. Other graphics holdings include historical and New York State maps.

The Susan H. Douglas Collection of Political Americana contains campaign buttons, posters, prints, textiles, song sheets, and other non-manuscript material from election campaigns since 1828. A poster collection of over 7,000 items includes anti-slavery broadsides, posters from World War I and II, patent medicine advertisements, farm auction posters, and Cornell University posters. In 1991 a collection of political posters and campaign memorabilia from the first free Hungarian election was acquired. It is now complemented by similar materials from Poland and East Germany, as well as political posters from China and Russia.

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