Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Steltzer, Ulli
Ulli Steltzer Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
44 boxes
Storage Note:
  • This is stored in multiple locations.
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Boxes 1-2; 34-35
  • ReCAP (scarcpxm): Boxes 3-33; 36-44


Contact sheets, negatives, prints, notebooks, research files, manuscripts, and correspondence of Ulli Steltzer, a German-born photographer residing in the United States and Canada since 1953. Materials relate to a number of published and unpublished photography projects spanning Steltzer's career from 1957 until 2008, including her portraits of prominent Princeton intellectuals and her wide-ranging documentary work, featuring American Indian artists of the Pacific Northwest, black communities in the American South, social conditions for migrant laborers and immigrants throughout the United States, and many other rural and tribal communities throughout the Americas and Asia.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of contact sheets, approximately 47,000 black-and-white negatives, silver gelatin prints, manuscripts, notebooks, research files, correspondence, pamphlets, and diaries related to a number of published and unpublished photography projects spanning Ulli Steltzer's entire career as a photographer from the late 1950s through 2008, including both her early Princeton portraits and later documentary work. The majority of the collection consists of contact sheets, interleaved with their corresponding negatives, and photographic prints in various sizes, arranged by subject or project. While the majority of negatives are 6x6cm frames of 120 film, some 35mm strips are occassionally present. Most prints in the collection are 8x10" silver gelatin prints, along with a significant group of mounted prints as large as 22x17", as well as occasional smaller formats, slides, and color photographs where noted. Related textual materials accompany photographs, including drafts for books and exhibition catalogs, research notes, travel diaries, interview transcriptions, receipts, bound volumes and pamphlets, and correspondence with publishers, collaborators, and subjects.

Grouped by project, following the chronology of Steltzer's career, the collection includes portraits of prominent Princeton intellectuals, visitors, and their families, including J. Robert Oppenheimer, George McGovern, Adlai Stevenson, Roger Sessions, and Igor Stravinsky; documentary photography depicting migrant workers and urban poverty in New Jersey, Ohio, and Illinois; African American communities and civil rights activists in the South, including the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1968; Hopi, Navajo, and Pueblo tribes of the American Southwest; Native American artists of British Columbia, including extensive documentation of the work of Haida carvers Robert Davidson and Bill Reid; the Cakchiquel people of Guatemala; the Inuit of the North American Arctic; immigrants in Los Angeles; India; Lijiang, Baidi, and Yongning, China; and Cuba and Trinidad.

Collection Creator Biography:

Steltzer, Ulli

Born in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1923, Ulli Steltzer emigrated to the United States in 1953 with her two children. After teaching music and developing photographs in Massachusetts and New York, Steltzer moved to Princeton in 1957 to accept a job as a professional photographer for the Princeton Packet, whose Tulane Street studio she worked from for much of the next two decades. In addition to taking portraits of many prominent Princeton intellectuals and visitors from the late 1950s through the early 1970s, she also made frequent trips across the United States in her red Volkswagen to photograph and interview African American families in the South, as well as Hopi, Navajo, and Pueblo peoples in New Mexico and Arizona. In 1972, Steltzer relocated her studio to Vancouver, British Columbia, where she befriended several prominent Haida artists, including carvers Robert Davidson and Bill Reid, who would become her frequent collaborators. Steltzer documented the art, culture, and traditions of the Haida and other coastal tribes, as well as the Inuit, with whom she lived for several months. Traveling widely throughout the Americas and Asia during her long career, Steltzer also documented life in Southern California, Guatemala, Cuba, China, and India, with a recurrent focus on immigrant communities and native peoples. Her photographs have been exhibited widely in the United States, Canada, and Europe, and have appeared in at least a dozen photographic books and collaborations.

Collection History


Gift of Ulli Steltzer, 2013 .


Duplicate copies of bound volumes were removed from the collection.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Kelly Bolding in September - November, 2013. Finding aid written by Kelly Bolding in November, 2013.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Trustees of Princeton University hold the copyright for materials in this collection that were created by Ulli Steltzer. Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, any copyright vested in the donor has passed to The Trustees of Princeton University and researchers do not need to obtain permission, complete any forms, or receive a letter to move forward with use of donor-created materials within the collection. For materials in the collection not created by the donor, or where the material is not an original, the copyright is likely not held by the University. In these instances, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have a question about who owns the copyright for an item, you may request clarification by contacting us through the Ask Us! form.

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:

Ulli Steltzer Papers; 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:
  • This is stored in multiple locations.
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Boxes 1-2; 34-35
  • ReCAP (scarcpxm): Boxes 3-33; 36-44