Paul Vanderbilt papers, 1854-1992

Vanderbilt, Paul, b. 1905 d. 1992
Curator, Photographer, Librarian
Active in Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Madison, Wis.

Collection size: 26.2 linear ft.

Collection Summary: Correspondence, diaries, files and writings mainly document Vanderbilt's professional work relating to bibliographic control, including his work as a librarian at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; his development of the Art Union Catalog and the Union Catlogue of the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area, done under the auspices of the WPA; his work in classification for the Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information (FSA-OWI) photographs; as curator of Prints and Photographs and other positions at the Library of Congress; his work as executive director of the Graphic History Society of America; Curator of the Iconographic Collections at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin; and his later career as a photographer.

The FSA files contain copies of Roy Stryker's correspondence, memoranda, and gossip sheets, and copies of other internal memoranda. Also noteworthy is a 6 p. autobiographical typescript describing Woody Guthrie's youth in Oklahoma (probably written in the late 1930s). Files from the Library of Congress contain memoranda, notes, reports, and correspondence relating to his continuing work on the FSA-OWI file, his 1955 "Guide to the Special Collections of Prints & Photographs in the Library of Congress," and other projects. The collection also includes research material for Vanderbilt's unpublished study of the iconography of Iran. Vanderbilit's diaries, 1926-1930, are of a mainly personal, introspective nature. Among Vanderbilt's correspondents are Beaumont Newhall and Roy Stryker.

ADDITION: Correspondence, ca. 1983-1992; letters supporting Vanderbilt's nomination for an honorary degree at the University of Wisconsin, 1982; subject files; journals with sporadic entries, 1954-1957, 1961-1967, 1972-1974, 1983-1987, and 1990; 38 reel-to-reel tapes and 36 cassette tapes, mostly interviews of Vanderbilt conducted by Jack Holzhueter, 1967-1968; unpublished writings, including typescripts of lectures, a report "A Program for the Care of Photographs in the Library of Congress," June 1945, and manuscripts and notes for his book, Between the Landscape and its Other (Johns Hopkins University Press, forthcoming); notecards; a "picture reservoir" consisting of pictures clipped from magazines; and miscellany.

Biographical/Historical Note: Paul Vanderbilt (1905-1992) was a librarian, curator, and photographer of Philadelphia, Pa., Washington, D.C. and Madison, Wis. Vanderbilt's work in bibliographic control led Roy Stryker of the Farm Security Administration's Historical Section (later the Office of War Information) to hire Vanderbilt to arrange and classify the vast FSA-OWI photographs. When the collection was transferred to the Library of Congress in 1944, Vanderbilt went with it as Curator of the newly formed Prints and Photographs Division. He remained at LC until 1954, when he left to join the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, where he established the Iconography division. He became a photographer himself toward the later part of his career.

Donated 1981 by Paul Vanderbilt, and in 1993 by his estate through John W. Winn, executor.

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