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Imogen Cunningham papers, 1903-1991

Imogen Cunningham papers, 1903-1991

Cunningham, Imogen, 1883-1976


Collection Information

Size: 5.5 linear ft. (on 8 microfilm reels)

Biographical/Historical Note

Photographer, teacher; San Francisco, Calif. Born in Portland, Oregon, Cunningham received training in the Edward S. Curtis studio and in Dresden, Germany. In 1910, she opened a studio in Seattle. In 1932, she was a founding member of Group f.64 with Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and others. She established a studio in San Francisco in 1947 and was primarily known for her portrait photography. Cunningham was married to printmaker Roi Partridge.


Donated 1974 and 1976 by Imogen Cunningham and in 1991 by her son, Gryffyrd Partidge. Papers donated by Cunningham were microfilmed on reels 1632-1639, but due to inferior film quality, were remicrofilmed on reels 5034- 5041 with the Gryffyrd Partridge donation.

Scope and Contents

Biographical material, correspondence, personal business records, notes, teaching files, writings, interview transcripts, printed material, and photographs document the life and career of photographer Imogen Cunningham.

Biographical material includes a birth certificate, 5 biographical sketches, 4 award certificates, and a diploma for an honorary degree from the California College of Arts and Crafts. Correspondence, 1909-1991, is with family, friends, photographers, publishers, museums, galleries, universities and art organizations. Among the correspondents are Alvar Aalto, Ansel Adams, Laura Andreson, Edgar Bissantz, Margaret Bourke-White, Horace Bristol, Wynn Bullock, John Butler, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Lyonel Feininger, the George Eastman House, Morris Graves, Lillian Hellman, Henry Gallery, Consuelo Kanaga, Dorothea Lange, Margery Mann, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Beaumont Newhall, Arnold Newman, Sonya Noskowiak, Georgia O'Keeffe, Allon Schoener, Charles Sheeler, Edward Steichen, Otto Steinert, Paul Strand, Karl Struss, Alice B. Toklas, Willard Van Dyke, Edward Weston, Minor White, Lee Witkin of the Witkin Gallery, and William Zorach.

Legal and financial material includes loan agreements, Cunningham's will, 1962, insurance policies, bank account records, 1944-1973, check registers, 1966-1968, household accounts, 1950-1953, and records of the Imogen Cunningham Trust, 1974-1976. Notes, 1959-1968, include 4 address books, a notebook, lecture notes, and miscellaneous notes. Teaching files, 1964-1971, contain photographs of students and their critiques of their own work. Writings, ca. 1910-1976, are by Cunningham, including an essay "About the Direct-Development of of Platinum Papers for Brown Tones", and by others, including writings about Cunningham, and reviews of the book Imogen Cunningham: Photographs, 1970.

Two transcripts are from an undated video interview and a radio interview, 1951. Printed material, 1903-1991, consists of clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, press releases, calendars of events, programs, brochures, reproductions of art work, and miscellaneous printed material. Photographs, 1916-1976, are of Cunningham, family members, friends, residences, gallery openings and installations, and art work by others. Only four photographs were taken by Cunningham; they are enclosures in letters from John Butler, Lucy Coe, Pearl Cunningham, and Elizabeth Parker.

Microfilm reels 5034-5041 available for use at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.

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