Skip to main content

Richard Whelan collection

Identifier: AG 216

Scope and Contents

The Richard Whelan Archive includes correspondence, biographical materials, financial records, and writing project files from 1969-2002, the bulk of which are from 1969- 2000. Overall, there is very little correspondence, and both incoming and outgoing correspondence are filed together. Many of the letters are personal in nature and are loosely related to Whelan’s various writing projects. There is also correspondence from colleagues and friends that he met while on research trips. Additional correspondence relating to specific projects can be found within project files.

The biographical series includes personal papers and ephemera from throughout Whelan’s life. Whelan attended high school at The Taft School, in Watertown, CT, and completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History at Yale University. His progress can be tracked through class papers, award certificates, and diplomas. The collection also contains three of Whelan’s diaries from 1964 – circa 1971. Whelan used these to note daily happenings in his personal life, and also as a place to explore his thoughts about various art historical topics and possible book projects. Detailed accounts of Whelan’s personal life are not extant in this collection, though a few personal snapshots can be found in this series.

The financial records in this archival group are also not complete. However, records from the years 1989-1990 and records for an account labeled “Bowery Account” that are represented are quite thorough.

Notes and several drafts of Whelan’s B.A. Honors Thesis, "A Discussion of Twenty-Seven Sculptures by Anthony Caro," 1969, and a later draft that was turned into Whelan’s first book, Anthony Caro, 1974, constitute Whelan’s initial efforts as a freelance writer. Working full time as a writer from 1977 until his death, the 30 linear feet of materials that make up the writing and publications series’ comprise the largest portion of this collection. Whelan began his career as a full-time freelance writer by writing for several periodicals concurrently from 1977-1981. An exhaustive title list of these articles has not yet been compiled; however, the majority of these articles were written for ARTnews, Art in America, Portfolio, Art & Auction, and Christopher Street. In general, these articles are related to general art topics, current exhibitions in and around New York City, art auction trends and results, and the lives and work of gay artists. There are research folders for a few of these articles; however, clippings of published articles are the sole representations of most of them.

Of note in this series are Whelan’s exhaustive research files and manuscript drafts about photographer Alfred Stieglitz, his colleagues, and the art and photographic movements which they were part of. Files relating to Whelan’s 1995 work, Alfred Stieglitz: A Biography and the edited volume, Stieglitz On Photography, 2000, are both part of the collection. Though there is some overlap in the research for these projects, they are arranged separately within this series and it is recommended that interested researchers examine both projects.

While working as a freelance magazine writer, Whelan was able to write about a variety of topics relating to the arts. As a freelance book author, he was able to choose his topics with even greater freedom – pursuing his own interests as they evolved. Whelan’s thorough research files, multiple drafts and galleys for his 1990 book, Drawing the Line can be found in the writing series. In this work, Whelan shifted his research and writing skills from the art historical to the political. Drawing the Line details the United States’ entrance into the Korean War, the military history of the war, and the political issues and that accompanied the outcome of the war.

In addition to the two Stieglitz projects and Drawing the Line, the collection includes notes, illustrations, correspondence, and drafts for several of Whelan’s other published and unpublished projects. The research and drafts of many of these manuscripts and articles are arranged chronologically. Many of Whelan’s unpublished manuscripts are not dated and have inconsistent titles; they are arranged alphabetically by the title used most frequently.

What is strikingly missing from this collection are all of Whelan’s files relating to Robert and Cornell Capa. Whelan’s first major biography, Robert Capa: A Biography, 1985, was the first of several publications concerning one or both of the Capa’s. Whelan maintained a successful, long-term professional relationship with Cornell, which may have begun as early as 1979. Additionally, Whelan cultivated a relationship with the institution that Cornell founded in 1974, the International Center of Photography (ICP), where Whelan worked as an instructor of the history of photography and photojournalism, and from 1992-2007 as a consulting curator for the Cornell and Robert Capa Archives. All files associated with projects relating to Cornell Capa, Robert Capa, and Gerda Taro that Whelan worked on independently or in collaboration with Cornell and others through ICP, are not part of this collection. It is recommended that researchers interested in these projects consult the archives at ICP, where another portion of Whelan’s archive is housed. Please scroll down and click on the linked "External Document" to view a full container list.


  • undated, 1969-2002


Language of Materials

Material in English

Conditions Governing Access

To access materials from this collection, please contact

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is held by Nancy Parrella.

It is the responsibility of the user to obtain permission from the copyright owner (which could be the institution, the creator of the record, the author or his/her transferees, heirs, legates or literary executors) prior to any copyright-protected uses of the collection.

The user agrees to indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the Arizona Board of Regents, the University of Arizona, Center of Creative Photography, including its officers, employees, and agents, from and against all claims made relating to copyright or other intellectual property infringement

Biographical Note

Little information is known about Whelan’s personal life other than what is described in the chronology, below.


David Richard Whelan born to David J. Whelan and Alice Tedford Whelan on November 12 in Bronxville, NY. RW Grows up in Westchester, NY with them and his sister, Nancy Whelan Parella.
Graduates from high school, The Taft School in Watertown, CT. Issued identity card by the US Coast Guard - “Ordinary Seaman, Wiper, Steward’s Department (FH).”
Graduates from Yale with a B.A. in Art History with Honors. Awarded the A.C. Goodyear Prize for Outstanding work in the History of Art. Begins graduate studies in art history at Yale that fall.
Leaves the Yale graduate program after Spring semester.
Whelan moves to Manhattan, and continues to reside in New York City for the duration of his life. Proposes to painter Dona Nelson.
RW works at the New York Public Library in Preparations Services.
An adaptation of RW’s Yale Honors thesis, Anthony Caro is published by Penguin in London.
Another edition of Anthony Caro is published by E.P. Dutton in New York.
Begins referring to himself as an “independent scholar and curator.” Living in New York, Whelan begins writing about art for a number of arts and culture magazines as a freelance writer.
RW and Dona Nelson divorce
RW travels to Venice for Venezia ’79 – La Fotografia.
circa 1980
RW ceases his work as a magazine writer in order to focus on book projects full time.
RW’s second book, Double Take: A Comparative Look at Photographs is published by Clarkson N. Potter.
RW’s book Robert Capa: A Biography published by Knopf, RW’s first major biography. French, German, Japanese, and Hungarian, and English editions are subsequently published: Mazarine, 1985; Faber, 1985; Kōdansha, 1988; Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1989; University of Nebraska Press, 1994; Ediciones Aldeasa, 2003. A second book, of Robert Capa’s photographs, Robert Capa: Photographs, edited with Cornell Capa, is published later that year by Knopf in the United States and Faber & Faber in London. RW travels some this year, both nationally and internationally (Arles, France, Raleigh/Durham, within New York State).
RW travels to England for pleasure, and later that year to Budapest to attend a photography conference.
RW’s book Drawing the Line: The Korean War, 1950-1953 is published by Little, Brown in the United States and also Faber and Faber in London. Now devoting much of his time to research for his upcoming biography about Alfred Stieglitz, RW embarks on a trip to the Southwest to conduct research and explore parts of New Mexico and eastern Arizona. While in Abiquiu, NM, he interviews Eliot Porter, among others.
Continuing his collaboration with Cornell Capa, Children of War, Children of Peace: Photographs by Robert Capa, edited with Cornell Capa is published in the United States and Japan (Boston: Bulfinch Press/ Little, Brown; Tokyo: JICC). Whelan’s edited versions of Emerson’s writing, accompanied by RW’s explanatory texts, are published as, Self-Reliance: The Wisdom of Ralph Waldo Emerson as Inspiration for Daily Living.
RW compiles work by and about Samuel Johnson for an unpublished volume. Continuing his collaboration with Cornell Capa, RW begins working as a Consulting Curator for the Cornell and Robert Capa Archives, at ICP, in New York, a position he held for the rest of his life. Also in collaboration with Cornell Capa, he and RW edit and publish a book, Cornell Capa: Photographs.
RW receives two grants to continue his research on Stieglitz in Italy. From May 18 -June 2, RW stays at the Hotel Do Pozzi in Venice, Italy with a grant from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation. While there, he works to try to find the locations where some of Stieglitz’s earliest photographs that were taken. From June 2 - July 1st, RW stays at the Villa Serbelloni, in Bellagio, Italy, as a Resident Scholar with the Rockefeller Foundation. He researches some of the areas in Northern Italy that Stieglitz explored and photographed from 1887-1894 while traveling first with his family and then during his honeymoon. RW also writes several chapters of the Stieglitz biography. Originally scheduled to leave on July 5, RW is forced to cut his trip short when the retina in his right eye detaches, and he must fly back to New York for treatment.
Dennis Stock: Made in America; Photographs, 1951-1971 is published; it includes an introduction by RW. RW’s exhaustive project, Alfred Stieglitz: A Biography is published by Little, Brown. It is subsequently translated into German and reissued as a paperback in the United States (Da Capo Press, 1997). RW presents a paper at a Society of Photographic Education (SPE) Conference at the Palmer Museum of Art at University Park, PA. RW begins teaching a course on the history of photojournalism and documentary photography at ICP, which he continues to do for a number of years.
RW writes the introduction for another book that he and Cornell Capa edit together: Robert Capa: Photographs. French, German, Spanish, Italian and Japanese editions are later published.
RW begins working the first book in a series that each follow different visual themes. Each of these books rely heavily on their images, though RW wrote an introduction for each of them and also included a number of pertinent quotes. The first book was published in 1997, The Book of Rainbows: Art, Literature, Science, & Mythology, through First Glance Books.
The second and third books in the image survey series are published this year in collaboration with Arnold Skolnick: The Sun, The Moon, and The Stars, and Impressionist Flowers: Art of the Bouquet. RW also works on the film, Robert Capa: An Introduction to His Life and Work with his brother in-law, Vincent Parrella.
RW edited and wrote an introduction to the new edition of Robert Capa’s original 1947 World War II memoir published under the same title, Slightly Out of Focus. Also published this year was Heart of Spain: Robert Capa’s photographs of the Spanish Civil War which RW worked on in collaboration with Catherine Coleman and Juan Pablo Fusi Aizpurúa. RW begins compiling images for a book project about Presidential Campaigns which he collaborated on with his friend and former landlord, Evan Cornog.
Hats in the Ring: an Illustrated History of American Presidential Campaigns, by RW and Evan Cornog, is published. RW also edits and introduces a volume of Alfred Stieglitz’s writing, Stieglitz on Photography: his selected essays and notes. Sarah Greenough’s introduction and complete bibliography of Stieglitz’s writings accompanied the volume.
Robert Capa: The Definitive Collection is published in English and then in French, German, Italian, Greek and Japanese.
Within the Phiadon “55” series, RW’s book, Frederick Evans, is published.
RW dies on May 23. This is War! Robert Capa at Work is published posthumously in November.


30 Linear Feet

Metadata Rights Declarations

  • License: This record is made available under an Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Creative Commons license.


Papers, 1941-2007, of Richard Whelan (1946-2007), cultural historian, author, and educator. Includes, correspondence, biographical materials, research materials, published and unpublished manuscripts, personal writings and notes, exhibition catalogs, study slides and prints, clippings, books, rolodex cards, video tapes, cell phone, snapshots, notebooks, diaries, and note cards.


This collection has been given the designation of Archive Group (AG) 216. The papers are divided first into boxes and then into labeled folders. The papers are arranged by record type, and then either chronologically, alphabetically. Where noted, Whelan’s original order has been maintained.

Series 1: Correspondence, n.d., 1971-2003

Series 2: Biographical materials, n.d., 1960-2003

Series 3: Writings, 1970-2002

  1. Subseries 1: Possible articles and research, 1974-1990
  2. Subseries 2: Unpublished book projects, 1970-2002
  3. Subseries 3: Project slides, circa 1990s
  4. Subseries 4: Published projects, 1969-1991
  5. Subseries 5: Alfred Stieglitz: A Biography, 1995
  6. Subseries 6: Published projects, 1997-2005

Series 4: Publications, n.d., 1960-2006

  1. Subseries 1: Books by or from the library of Richard Whelan, 1952-1988
  2. Subseries 2: Articles by Richard Whelan, 1970-2002
  3. Subseries 3: Publication by other: cultural documents, 1966-2004
  4. Subseries 4: Publication by others: museum and gallery publications, 1960-2006
  5. Subseries 5: Publications by others: bulletins, catalogs, guides, and journals, 1966-2004
  6. Subseries 6: Publications by others: copies, 1970-2000
  7. Subseries 7: Publications by others: clippings, 1972-2007

Series 5: Financial records, 1978-1996

Series 6: Travel, circa 1964-1993

Series 7: Other materials, circa 1964-1993

  1. Subseries 1: Oversize materials, 1941-1990
  2. Subseries 2: Audiovisual materials, 1989-2002

Custodial History

This collection was a gift of Nancy Parrella, Richard Whelan’s sister, in 2008.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Emily Una Weirich, August 2010 through February 2011. Finding aid was updated by Paige Hilman, February 2018 and again by Alexis Peregoy in 2019.

Richard Whelan Collection, 1969-2002
Finding aid created by CCP Archives Staff
© 2019
Description rules
Finding Aid Based On Dacs (Describing Archives: A Content Standard)
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid encoded in English

Repository Details

Part of the Center for Creative Photography Archives Repository

1030 N. Olive RD
Tucson Arizona 85721 United States