Skip to Main Content

Korab Collection: Archive of an Architectural Photographer

Searching & Viewing the Collection

The Balthazar Korab Collection is comprised of a small group selected by the photographer, which was gifted to the library in 2007, and the much larger photographic archive, which arrived in 2011. The Eero Saarinen book project, 2005-2008 images have been digitized and made available online. The majority of the remaining 540,000 items, have not been digitized. Some digital content is outlined below along with guidance for finding and viewing items both digital and physical.

Searching the Collections

Online Image Records (Digitized Items)

Records for single items with digital images are in library online search tools, and images may be downloaded. We advise starting with the architect name or firm name in a search of the Prints & Photos Online Catalog (see screenshot below, left). Use the results set to guide whether you narrow or broaden from there, and whether you need to move on to the non-digitized material. The ever-growing digital content includes:

Image shows screenshots in a side-by-side comparison of two search systems.
Screenshot. Comparison view of search results display in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog (left), which shows image thumbnails for individual digitized items, and the Finding Aid to the Balthazar Korab Archive (right), which shows a list of folder headings for groups of images related to a search term. 2020.

Finding Aid to the Collection (Digitized and Non-digitized)

The majority of the archive is not digitized and may be searched through a finding aid that provides descriptions at a folder level (see screenshot below, right). It is available in the Reading Room and online. See Making a Request below for information about viewing originals.

Navigating the Finding Aid

Each entry in the finding aid gives the Project Title (including date if provided), Extent (amount and format of items), Call Number, and when appropriate Architect, Alternate Project Titles, Location, and Views (e.g. interior, exterior). When available we provide related contributor names in the Architect field. In most cases, the text on the folder from the Korab Office was used for the Project Title. Because abbreviations were used by Korab frequently, staff provided the expanded name in the Notes field, if known. For example, SOM will also include "Skidmore Owings and Merrill" and DIA will also include “Detroit Institute of Art”, so that you can get the same results with either search. Additional text recorded on the folder, when legible, was transcribed in the Notes. Spelling errors have been corrected to aid searching.

In general, it may be easiest to start with a search of the principal architect’s name. However, there are no single headings to cover all variations of a firm or principal architect's career. For example, you would need to search for HEPY, HED, HECS, HEA, and other iterations in addition to individuals' names, e.g. Harley or Ellington. Whichever grouping made up the firm at the time of a specific design/construction project is usually listed.

You can narrow search results by adding search terms like project name or location. If you don't get enough results, try broadening your search to a more generic location, the name of the most famous person or organization involved, or part of a project title. Try alternate names for famous buildings, as well as names of clients and related contributors. While landscape designers and interior designers are sometimes listed as related names, you may have to rely on a search of the primary architect to find all folders for a given project.

Artist Choice File

In some cases, the Korab Office removed materials from folders before transferring the archive to the Library of Congress. The removal is generally indicated by a blue or green Artist Choice removal sheet left in the folder. To the best of our knowledge, the Artist Choice selections have been relocated to folders KORAB F3911 to KORAB F4166.

Projects will have significant amounts of material in more than one area of the Finding Aid. Do not stop your searching after a single hit.

Access to the Materials

View shows an open file folder with collection materials inside.
Prints & Photographs Division staff. View of folder (KORAB F1623) as served in Prints & Photographs Reading Room. 2020.

Making a Request

For materials that are not represented online in digital form, researchers can request to view the materials on site. Researchers should make requests at least 14 days in advance of an anticipated visit, by selecting project folders from the Finding Aid. All requests should be submitted through Ask A Librarian or in person in the Prints & Photographs Reading Room. Requests must include the Folder #, Folder Heading and Box # for each folder.

eg. KORAB F1836 J. Irwin Miller House Interiors (Box 39)

Because of space and resource constraints, the amount that can be requested at one time is limited: Researchers may request up to 10 folders from no more than 5 containers per day. If more material is needed for viewing in a single visit, please consult reference staff regarding the feasibility of arranging for more material to be brought on site and the time needed to make it available. Once on-site, material will be placed on hold for 30 days before being returned to the off-site location. One 30-day extension is permitted.

Nitrate negatives and the smaller series Eero Saarinen book project, 2005-2008 are not served. Please use the digital images available in the catalog.

Handling and Viewing the Material in the Reading Room

Materials may require gloves for handling. Materials inside sleeves may not be removed.

Within each folder materials are organized sequentially by media type: Photographs and prints, contact sheets, manuscript material, color transparencies, black & white negatives, color slides, and other visual materials. Not all negatives have corresponding prints, but most prints have corresponding negatives or transparencies. Korab's collection also contained binder portfolios which were disbound for collection safety. These materials are preserved in original order from the binder and are marked accordingly. Please maintain the order of folders and the order of sheets and prints within the folders.

White slips with the phrase "Intentionally left blank" were placed by Library technicians to help note that items are not missing from negative and slide sheets.

Yellow and yellow-green round stickers were used by the Korab Office staff and are often placed on empty sleeves as call slips for negatives removed by employees. Often times the sticker has the initials of the person or organization that borrowed the negatives. Ex: CMK is Christian M. Korab, LOC is the Library of Congress.

Some negatives were numbered by the Korab Office, and you can occasionally use this to identify prints and variations from a negative. These are not the majority.

Further Information

Please consult the Prints & Photographs Information for Researchers page, referenced below, for an overview of what to expect in the Reading Room.