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"Obsidian Dream," by Barbara Traub, 1995
Collection Description & Creator Information
This collection documents over seventy years of Ruth Bernhard's life, from her start as a serious photographer in the 1930s, at a time when photography was gaining status as a fine art form, until her death in 2006 at age 101, by which time she was internationally well-known both for her contributions to the field of photography and for her long and successful teaching career. Though some photographs from her early life in Germany are present, as well as occasional materials from her early career, such as photocopies of correspondence with her mentor, Edward Weston, the majority of materials in the collection pertain to Bernhard's activities from the 1960s through the early 2000s.
The papers contain a wide array of materials relevant to Bernhard's personal and professional life, including personal and business correspondence and papers related to her career as a professional photographer and teacher of photography, a small amount of photographic work, some manuscripts and proofs for her published and unpublished books and portfolios, publicity materials, exhibition and auction catalogs and brochures, photography props, teaching materials and hand-outs, appointment books, and a large collection of memorabilia, including snapshots of Bernhard, collected fine art photographs and artwork by others, photograph albums, gifts, personal effects, and awards. Occasional audio and visual materials are also present, including slides, cassette tapes, and VHS tapes documenting various events, awards ceremonies, interviews, and lectures, as well as some kept for personal interest.
Absent from the papers are Bernhard's silver gelatin prints and original negatives, which are held by the Princeton University Art Museum. It should also be noted that Bernhard disposed of many of her 8 x 10" negatives, especially her commercial work, when she stopped photographing in 1976, resulting in the lack of materials related to much of her commercial photography in the papers.
Item description was provided by the Princeton University Art Museum. Though this legacy description deviates substantially from standard archival description practices, it was retained in order to avoid the loss of potentially valuable information. Researchers should keep this in mind when using this description to navigate the collection, referring to series and subseries-level description for a broader summary of contents. It should also be noted that throughout this item description, "Ruth Bernhard" has often been abbreviated as "RB."
- Archival Appraisal Information:
Nothing was discarded or transferred in the processing of this collection.
Access & Use
- Access Restrictions:
This collection is open for research.
- Conditions for Reproduction and 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. Copyright and literary rights for materials in this collection that were created by Ruth Bernhard are held by the Trustees of Princeton University.
- Credit this material:
"Obsidian Dream," by Barbara Traub; Ruth Bernhard Papers, C1468, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library
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