Helen Balfour Morrison’s Great Americans collection

Inclusive Dates: 
1934–1946 and circa 1974
Survey Repository: 

This record forms part of the Chicago’s Art-Related Archival Materials: A Terra Foundation Resource project funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art. For this project, the Archives surveyed archival repositories throughout the Chicago region to identify art-related materials contained in their holdings. While the Archives of American Art does not own any of the materials described herein, information about those materials and links to the original repositories have been included when available.

Descriptive Summary

10 linear feet (4 bankers boxes, 10 portfolio boxes and 6 flat file boxes) containing project files, correspondence, photographs, negatives, journals, manuscripts, scrapbooks, and clippings that document the life and work of portrait photographer Helen Balfour Morrison. Also included are portrait photographs of American artists taken by Morrison in Chicago and New York in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1970s, and her correspondence with her subjects.

Biographical Historical Note

Helen Balfour Morrison began her photography career by opening her own studio in Evanston, Illinois, with her brother. Once established in the Chicago area’s artist community, she used her experience in portrait photography to make a series of portraits of “Great Americans,” for which she made portraits of numerous artists as well as writers, politicians, doctors, and social workers, first in Chicago in the 1930s, then in New York in the 1940s, and in the 1970s in Chicago.