The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Office of Public Affairs Photographic Collection
Earlier this year I briefly wrote about the history of the Smithsonian Photographic Services cold storage vault and promised to follow up with a series of posts examining each of the collections it houses. The first collection I’d like to introduce is Accession 11-008 - Office of Public Affairs Photographic Collection, which documents a variety of significant events in our institutional history from 1960-1970. The collection consists of 35mm and 120mm black and white negative roll film that we are scanning as digital contact sheets. The varied content on the film details public and private events such as notable visitors, exhibit openings, and special donations, as well as building renovations, behind the scenes work, and staff portraits.
This collection overlaps in a very interesting way with other collections we have at the Smithsonian Institution Archives. Prints made from select frames of this film have made their way into the records of our internal staff newspaper, The Torch, as many of the images were used in the publication to illustrate to staff the goings on around the Institution. Prints made from this collection also show up in our central file of photographs that documents the history of the Institution. To aid us in cataloging this collection, we rely on information from the negative sleeves, a handwritten logbook that is sometimes less than decipherable, and any information we can glean from related collections. With the addition of the Office of Public Affairs Photographic Collection to our holdings, we now have the complete set of original film that can fill in any gaps missing from our other photographic holdings documenting the Smithsonian during the 1960s.
- Unlocking the Vault, The Bigger Picture blog, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Cabinet of Curiosities, The Bigger Picture blog, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Accession 10-001 - Smithsonian Photographic Services, Negative Log Books, 1959-1999, 2008, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Accession 11-008 - Office of Public Affairs, Photographic Collection, 1960-1970, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Record Unit 371 - Smithsonian Institution Office of Public Affairs, The Torch, 1955-1960, 1965-1988, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Record Unit 95 - Photograph Collection, 1850s- , Smithsonian Institution Archives