Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Van Vechten, Carl, 1880-1964
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Carl Van Vechten Photographs
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
2 boxes
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-2


Consists of photographs taken and printed by Carl Van Vechten, primarily during the 1930s to 1940s, following his career as a music critic, journalist, and author.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection contains 46 postcard-size, black and white photographs of 33 people, including two self-portraits, taken and printed by Van Vechten primarily during the 1930s to 1940s. His subjects in this collection cover a wide range of celebrities in the theatrical and literary world, including ballet dancers, actors and actresses of stage and screen (some in costume), singers, musicians, authors, and poets--for example, Marian Anderson, Pearl Bailey, Sir John Gielgud, Hugh Laing, Sinclair Lewis, Norman Mailer, Clifford Odets, Jerome Robbins, Artur Rubinstein, Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, and Lin Yutang. Also present are two photographs (1923, 1930) of Van Vechten taken by the New York photographer Nickolas Muray.

An addition consists of 21 mounted images (8" x 10") of musicians, writers, entertainers, and actors (on stage and screen)--many of them well-known Black performers--which are identifed and dated on the verso. Included are Earl Jones in the Langston Hughes play Don't You Want to be Free?, Vincent Price in Angel Street, Pearl Bailey in St. Louis Woman, and Ethel Waters in Mamba's Daughters.


The photographs are arranged alphabetically by subject.

Collection Creator Biography:

Van Vechten, Carl, 1880-1964

Carl Van Vechten was an American writer and photographer who was a patron of the Harlem Renaissance and the literary executor of Gertrude Stein. Eugene O'Neill was a Nobel Prize-winning American dramatist whose works include, The Iceman Cometh, A Touch of the Poet, and A Long Day's Journey into Night.

Collection History


Gift of the artist. Additions transferred from Theatre Collection. in 2002.

Custodial History

The collection was formed as a result of a departmental practice of combining into one collection manuscript material of various accessions relating to a particular author.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed in 2002. Finding aid written in 2002.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Carl Van Vechten Photographs; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-2