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University of Texas at Austin

Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.:

An Inventory of Company's Literary File Photography Collection at the Harry Ransom Center Center

Creator: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Title: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Literary File Photography Collection
Dates: 1895-1983 (bulk 1930s-1960s).
Extent: 18,858 items
Abstract: The collection contains 18,858 photographs and negatives from 1895 to 1983 relating both to authors published by the firm and to Alfred A. Knopf's personal life. Nearly 500 photographers, notably Knopf himself, and a variety of formats and processes are represented in the file.
Call Number: Photography Collection PH-02651
Language: English
Access: Please note: Transparencies may be accessed but require 24 hours advance notice. Negatives cannot be accessed without curatorial approval. Light sensitive materials must be viewed under low-level lighting. Some materials may be restricted from viewing. To make an appointment or to reserve photography materials, please contact the Center's staff at .

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Gifts, 1963-1996
Processed by: Susan McClellan, 2006; Nicole Davis, 2010

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Scope and Contents

The Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Literary File Photography Collection contains photographs relating both to authors published by the firm and to Alfred A. Knopf's personal life. The material dates from the 1890s through the 1980s. Nearly 500 photographers, notably Knopf himself, and a variety of formats and processes are represented in the file. The majority of photographs are black-and-white, unless noted in the description. The collection is arranged in five series: I. Photographs of Authors, 1921-1977; II. Personal Photographs, 1895-1983; III. Assorted Negatives, 1912-1977; IV. Oversize Items, 1911-1938 and undated; and V. Manuscript Items, undated.
Series I. is divided into three subseries. Subseries A. Portraits of Authors, contains formal portraits of the authors published by Knopf, Inc. Subseries B. Snapshots of Authors by Alfred A. Knopf, consists of informal photographs of authors, taken primarily at Knopf's home in Purchase, New York. Subseries C. Author Publicity Files, contains portraits and caricatures of Knopf, Inc.'s authors. It also contains reproductions of illustrations used in the books published by Knopf, Inc., images used to promote those books, reproductions of book jackets, and photographs of promotional window displays.
Each subseries in Series I. is organized alphabetically by author's last name. The bulk of the images dates from the 1930s through the 1960s. The subjects of the three subseries overlap to some degree: images pertaining to a particular author may be found in more than one subseries, as well as in Series II. subseries B (see below). It is important to note that most of the folders in the Publicity Files contain multiple copies of a few images. Additionally, while this group is organized by author, a folder may not actually have photographs of its author, only book illustrations or other promotional images, indicated by brackets around the author's name. For example, the folder on Hilaire Belloc (13.10) does not contain any portraits of Belloc, only a reproduction of an illustration from Belloc's book.
Series II. is divided into three subseries. Subseries A. Alfred A. & Blanche W. Knopf, contains snapshots and formal portraits of Alfred from boyhood in the 1890s through the 1980s and Blanche as a young woman in the 1910s through 1965, as well as some of Blanche Wolf's family photographs, all arranged chronologically. Subseries B. Animals, Events, Homes and People, contains snapshots of the Knopf's dogs, of assorted events they attended, of their home in Purchase, N.Y., and of their friends and family. The Friends and Family photographs include both snapshots and formal portraits of many of the same authors represented in Series I. Subseries C. Travel Photographs, consists of the Knopf's vacation snapshots from the early 1900s through the 1970s, organized chronologically.
Series III. Assorted Negatives consists of five subseries: A. 35mm Negatives, which consists of People and Dogs, Travels, and Assorted Subjects; B. Medium-Format Negatives; C. Glass Negatives; D. Glass Transparencies; and E. Nitrate Negatives, which consists of Personal Photos, Travel Photos, Dogs, and Horses, which are arranged chronologically, as well as Authors and Deteriorating Negatives, both arranged alphabetically by subject. The negatives in all of these subseries complement the previous two series of photographs.
Series IV. Oversize items includes an album of Knopf's snapshots from 1911 to 1915, an empty album box, and assorted large-format prints, including a series of author portraits taken by Knopf.
Series V. Manuscript items consists of a small amount of photograph and negative envelopes with manuscript notes which were not able to be matched to their original contents.
A subject index at the end of the finding aid lists the people represented in the collection in alphabetical order. An additional index lists the 493 photographers represented in the collection. Alfred A. Knopf took many of the photographs himself, and he is listed in the index. However, he presumably took all of the photographs in Series I. Subseries B. (Snapshots of Authors), so these items are not listed in the index.

Related Material

Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Records (MS-00062)

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