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Art Topics and Resources in the Manuscript Collections at the Library of Congress


Frances Benjamin Johnston, three-quarter length portrait, holding and looking down at camera, facing slightly left. ca. 1950. Frances Benjamin Johnston Collection. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

The Manuscript Division holds the papers of several well known photographers, including photojournalists, fine art photographers, and prominent individuals throughout history who partook in amateur photography. Each collection reveals as much about the individuals behind the lens, as it does of those in front of the lens, and of the world around them. While a picture may be worth a thousand words, their words, found in these papers, may be just as revealing.

Some of the below listed collections demonstrate much about the work of prominent and recognizable photographers. One such example is Toni Frissell, the celebrated photographer whose work graced the pages of Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and Sports Illustrated magazines throughout a long and exciting career that included a stint as a foreign correspondent in Europe during World War Two and several photojournalism assignments in England in the 1950s. An exemplary treasure from this collection includes the documents and correspondence surrounding the wedding and reception of Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy. Frissell later wrote of the event that she had difficulty getting the couple alone for photographs. Such anecdotes and details give researchers context and insight not only into the work of the photographers, but also their subjects.

Other prominent photographers in the collections include Roy Stryker and John Vachon, two of the many who worked for the Farm Security Administration, as well as Eric and Edith Matson of the American Colony in Jerusalem, documentary photographer Milton Rogovin, and F. Holland Day.

Many visual materials from the collections, including photographs, etchings, drawings, and others have been transferred to the Prints and Photographs Division. Patrons are advised to contact both the Manuscript Division and the Prints and Photographs Division for guidance on accessing these materials.


The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content, including finding aids for the collections, are included when available.