Exploring Haverford’s Photography Collection

Haverford’s fine art photography collection is among the largest of any liberal-arts college, including work from photographic pioneers like William Henry Fox-Talbot and historically significant photographers such as Eadweard Muybridge, Walker Evans, Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Lee Friedlander, Diane Arbus, and Carl Van Vechten. The collection also includes works by important contemporary photographers including Jamel Shabazz and Jessica Todd Harper.

This extensive body of work is housed in Magill’s special collections and has benefited from numerous large donations and purchases in recent years, so there is much to do in terms of organization and digitization. This summer, I’m working as assistant to photography professor William Williams. Most of my time is spent in special collections, where my work involves digitizing photographic prints via scanner or camera, entering metadata, and editing the collection’s master list of photographs. The master list, which was formerly just a word document, is now generated from a database of the collection, which I’ve spent some time cleaning up, looking for dropped metadata and other technical failures. I also work on adding newly acquired photographs to the database, so I have to scan the prints and generate associated metadata. Handling photographic materials is one of the most exciting parts of my work. Getting to look at and engage with a physical photographic print is very different from viewing an image on a screen or even in a book, so getting to handle prints, some of which are unique, singular editions, is a lot of fun.

Personally, what I enjoy and appreciate most about this work is the exposure and familiarly I am gradually gaining with the collection, photographic materials, and photographers. Through my work with the collection, I’ve been exposed to hundreds of fantastic photographers and photographs; I’m keeping lists of each and they’re only getting longer! Some of my new favorite photographers include: Daniel Traub, Jerry Burchard, Jack Carnell, and Jenny Odell. And here are some cool images from the collection:


Fink, Larry, Logger, 1981. Source.

Jack Carnell

 Carnell, Jack, PharmacyGeorgia, 2006. Source.


Link, Ogle Winston, Abingdon Branch, Maude Bows to the Virginia Creeper, Green Cove, Virginia, 1956. Source.