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Magnum Photos, Inc.:

A Preliminary Inventory of Its Collection in the Photography Collection at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Magnum Photos, Inc.
Title: Magnum Photos, Inc., Photography Collection
Dates: 1929-2004
Extent: 1,320 boxes and 39 portfolios (approx. 200,000 photographic prints)
Abstract: Magnum Photos' New York bureau photograph morgue consisting largely of black-and-white gelatin silver prints dating from 1929 to 2004. The photographs show the world and its people, events, issues, geography, and personalities as captured through the lenses of Magnum members.
Language: English
Access:

Open for research. Researchers may also wish to consult an FAQ about the collection.




Acquisition:

Gift, 2013 (previously on deposit, 2010)

Processed by:

Mary Alice Harper, 2010

Repository:

The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center


The collection consists of photographs from Magnum Photos' New York bureau, dating from 1929 to 2004. Black-and-white gelatin silver prints make up the bulk of the collection, but also included are a few color prints, ink jet prints, and copy transparencies. The photographs show the world and its people, events, issues, geography, and personalities as captured through the lenses of Magnum members. The images in this collection were made to distribute to publishers, the media, advertisers, and museums and galleries from around the globe. Nearly half the photographs were sent out for assignments and returned, and thus show evidence of much handling. The backs of many of the photographs are marked and stamped, evidence of their usage and means for refiling.

Since its foundation in 1947, Magnum has used a number of filing systems (the current system arranges photographs by story number). The original physical order of the collection is preserved, but in order to facilitate search and retrieval, this preliminary inventory groups similar photographs in the following five series: Series I, Photographers; Series II, Personalities; Series III, Subjects; Series IV, Geographical; and Series V, Magnum. The bulk of the materials are listed at box-level only. All subjects and titles in this preliminary inventory are those assigned by Magnum.

The first series, Photographers, is comprised of boxes containing the works of single photographers only, and it is in alphabetical order by photographer. In general the boxes follow each photographer's career chronologically, occasionally ending with a portfolio of exhibition prints. Box descriptions that are seven digits long (e.g., 1944001) are for specific stories; the first four digits represent the year of the story and the last three digits represent the story number within a given year.

Series II, Personalities, consists of images of notable figures from around the world. Included are portraits and snapshots of world leaders, politicians, artists, authors, activists, sports figures, actors and actresses, designers, architects, musicians, and other celebrated people. Each personality received his or her own folder, so the majority of boxes show a range of names rather than a single name. Individual names are displayed either as they appear in the Library of Congress Name Authority File (LCNAF) or have been formed in accordance with the Anglo American Cataloging Rules 2nd revision (AACR2r). Dates appearing in conjunction with names are the life and/or death dates of the subject.

The third series, Subjects, consists of generic, domestic topical subjects, and excludes personalities and foreign countries. All subjects are listed alphabetically.

Series IV, Geography, is divided first by continent or world region, and then subdivided by country and listed alphabetically.

The final series, Magnum, is comprised of portraits and snapshots of Magnum photographers, staff, contributors and meetings. Additionally there are groups of images collected by Magnum members for specific projects. Individual names are displayed either as they appear in the LCNAF or have been formed in accordance with the AACR2r. Dates appearing in conjunction with names are the life and/or death dates of the subject.

This preliminary inventory was created to provide immediate access to the collection. In the interest of preserving the original state of the archive, folders not containing any photographs were left in place and listed but are marked as empty in this inventory. Boxes and/or folders not described in Magnum's original inventory are noted as such. In the future, more detailed, folder-level information will be added. All personalities will be listed individually, and all subjects and geographical locations will contain subcategories.


Subjects

Celebrities

Demonstrations

Economic & social conditions

Photojournalism

People

Politicians

War

World leaders

Places

Africa--Pictorial works

Asia--Pictorial works

Central America--Pictorial works

Europe--Pictorial works

Middle East--Pictorial works

North America--Pictorial works

Oceania--Pictorial works

South America--Pictorial works

Soviet Union--Pictorial works

Document Types

Digital prints

Dye coupler prints

Film transparencies

Gelatin silver prints