Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

Search Collections

Literary Files Collection

Scope and Contents

The Literary Files Collection consists of photographic materials dating from the 1880s to the 1960s and represents a wide variety of photographic formats and processes, including daguerreotypes, tintypes, cabinet cards, cartes-de-visite, photographic postcards, snapshots, and glass and nitrate negatives.

The collection was compiled from photographic materials transferred to the Photography Collection, mainly from collections in the Ransom Center Library or Manuscript Collection, from the early 1960s through 1990. Since 1990, when archival methods of cataloging were adopted, photographs have instead been kept in the originating collection in order to maintain their original provenance and context.

This collection consists of 1,061 alphabetically arranged "files" of photographs and photograph albums, with each file ranging in size from a single item to thousands of items. Each file brings together images of and/or collected by the subject of the files, usually a literary figure, entity, or character. In addition to professional and personal images of the subject figures, the file may also include photographs of the subject's family, friends, and associates, and also photographs depicting their homes, travels, and graves and other memorials. There may also be photographs associated with the subject's literary work, such as movie and/or play production stills and images considered for use as book illustrations. Some files also include photographic reproductions of artworks by the subject and/or other artists.

160 of the larger files are further described in individual finding aids. Among these are the files for Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., Maxwell Anderson, W. H. Auden, Paul Bowles, Charlotte Brontë, the Browning Family, Joseph Conrad, E. E. Cummings, Nancy Cunard, J. Frank Dobie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, C. S. Forester, Erle Stanley Gardner, William Goyen, Ernest Hemingway, Fannie Hurst, Robinson Jeffers, Walter Willard ("Spud") Johnson, the Carlton Lake Collection, D. H. Lawrence, T. E. Lawrence, Sinclair Lewis, Willard Maas, Sir Compton Mackenzie, Katherine Mansfield, Edgar Lee Masters, W. Somerset Maugham, Carson McCullers, Christopher Morley, Eugene O'Neill, George Sessions Perry, Edgar Allan Poe, the Powys Family, Robert Raynolds, Carl Sandburg, Anne Sexton, George Bernard Shaw, Edith Sitwell, Pavel Tchelitchew, Dylan Thomas, H. M. Tomlinson, Carl Van Vechten, Sir Hugh Walpole, Evelyn Waugh, Walt Whitman, and Tennessee Williams.

Images taken by many well-known photographers are included in the collection, including Berenice Abbott, Ansel Adams, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Apeda Studio, Fabian Bachrach, Alexander Bassano, Hans Beacham, Cecil Beaton, Mathew B. Brady, Wynn Bullock, Channell Studio, Lucien Clergue, Alvin Langdon Coburn, A. C. Cooper, Howard Coster, Helen Craig, Nicholas Elder, Eliot Elisofon, Elliott & Fry, Elliott Erwitt, Arnold Genthe, Mark Gerson, Hills & Saunders, E. O. Hoppé, Ida Kar, Yousuf Karsh, Dmitri Kessel, London Stereoscopic Co., George Platt Lynes, Angus McBean, Rosalie Thorne McKenna, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Inge Morath, Carl Mydans, Irving Penn, Man Ray, Napoleon Sarony, Charles Sheeler, Aaron Siskind, Edward Steichen, Underwood & Underwood, Carl Van Vechten, and Warren's Portraits. An index at the end of this finding aid lists all photographers whose work has been identified in the files.

This finding aid, plus the associated finding aids for many of the larger files, replaces descriptions in an existing card catalog that provided indexes to most of the files by collection name and proper name.

The Ransom Center Library and the Manuscript Collection hold associated books, papers, and some additional photographic materials for most of the Literary Files.

Literary Files Collection Finding Aid
Title Page Scope and
File List Index of

(Last modified: 16 April 2008)

Reference queries to: photography@hrc.utexas.edu

Return to Finding Aids