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Reginald Heron archive

Identifier: AG 252

Scope and Contents

The Reginald Heron Archive contains the personal papers and photographic materials of the photographer and educator Reginald Heron (1932-2012). The materials in the archive date from the 1920s to 2013. The archive consists of correspondence files, biographical materials, manuscripts, exhibition materials, teaching files, publications, audiovisual materials, and photographic materials.

Series 1, Correspondence, includes personal and professional letters, postcards, and greeting cards written to and by Reginald Heron. The bulk of the personal correspondence is letters written by Reginald Heron to his mother Katherine who he addressed as "KM". Their letters include discussions of magazine subscriptions, the price of stamps, Heron's back trouble, Esperanto, a man named Gaston Valenciennes, socks KM was knitting for Heron, a cat named Sacha, and typewriters. In one such letter to his mother, dated 4/13/1957, Heron wrote: "When I am rich ha bloody ha, I will buy you one of these extra special American ones. Maybe an IBM Electronic one, they are a veritable dream. Have you ever handled one, it's quite an experience. Something everyone should do before they die."

Series 2, Biographical Materials, contains materials relating to Heron’s relationships, education, career, exhibitions, and working relationship with Henry Holmes Smith. Exhibition materials include announcements, catalogs, correspondence, press releases, installation views, and other materials that document exhibitions of works by Heron and others. In a 1962 letter to his mother, Heron wrote "...just got back from seeing one of my sort of academic idolsHenry Holmes Smithwho runs the photo department down at the University of Illinois in Bloomington, almost down at the bottom of Indiana... What a man. We got on extraordinarily well, I am glad to say and we were sort of awed that such a not too loosely used "great man" should with such generosity spend so much of his time with us; and appear to enjoy it." The two became great friends and colleagues.

Series 3, Activity Files, includes Heron’s research files, teaching files, writings, and journals. Research files include patents, blue prints, and other miscellaneous research conducted by Heron. Teaching files include correspondence, memoranda, course and seminar outlines, lecture notes, research notes, announcements, administrative records, photographs, and other materials relating to courses taught by Heron. There is also a collection of Heron’s writings, notes, and journals, including Lofty’s Log, which were journals kept by Heron during his travels.

Series 4, Publications, includes monographs, periodicals, tearsheets, and clippings written by Heron or about his activities.

Series 5, Photographic Materials, includes negatives, slides, contact sheets, prints, equipment, and digital materials. Digital Materials includes floppy disks and CDs. Contact sheets includes variety of sizes and content. Digital Prints includes notes from the artist regarding the location and date on many of these prints, however the bulk of prints is untitled. In addition, Digital Prints includes print orders from AGFA, CVS, and Kodak. While largely unmounted 8 by 10 prints, there are cyanotypes and a plated silver gelatin print present in the collection as well. In addition, there are a wide variety of negative formats, including 16 mm, 35 mm, 4x5, and glass plate negatives. Equipment contains several manuals and informational guides, including brochures on paper fiber, photographic chemistry, and publications about preservation.


  • circa 1920s-2013


Language of Materials

Material in English, French

Conditions Governing Access

To access materials from this collection, please contact

Conditions Governing Use

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

Reginald Heron was a photographer, an experimenter, and an enthusiast. But most of all, he was an educator, known (and loved) by his students at Indiana University at Bloomington and by his peers worldwide.

Reginald Heron was born in France in 1932 to British parents, Reginald and Kathleen Heron. During World War II, the family lived for a time in Portugal, returning to England and France after the war ended. His parents divorced at some point; Heron and his mother had a close and loving relationship. In 1952, at age 19, he moved to the U.S. where he lived in New York City and Cincinnati and, finally, Chicago. He worked at Marshall Fields, did some technical writing for the American Technical Society, was a lab tech for the Baldwin Piano Company. When he became ill (possibly mononucleosis) in 1954, he returned to his mother's home in Lavandou, France to recover. When he was healthy again, Reg attended college and worked for Ilford in England. Around 1956, he returned to the United States, moving to Chicago where he earned Bachelor's (1963) and Master's (1966) degrees in photography from the Institute of Design of the Illinois Institute of Technology. His Master's thesis examined the formation of groups and the choreography of crowds in photography. Much of his early work chronicles crowds of people in city scenes, an observer's view of mid-century America.

After graduation, Heron moved to Rochester, New York, to become Assistant Curator for the Equipment Archives at the International Museum of Photography at the George Eastman House. In 1970, Heron's mentor Henry Holmes Smith, hired him to teach photography in the School of Fine Arts at Indiana University in Bloomington. The two men became fast friends. Smith groomed Heron to succeed himself as head of the photography department at Indiana when Smith retired. When Heron's advancement was questioned, Smith wrote letters and made phone calls promoting Heron's candidacy and eventual appointment. Heron remained at the school until his retirement 26 years later.

Heron married and divorced three times during his 20s and 30s. In 1977, he married Karen Donne Vitelli, an anthropologist. This marriage stuck; the two were together the rest of Heron's life. Vitelli's work took them to Greece numerous times during their years together. While there, Heron photographed the environment; some of his most notable images are Greek streetscapes, usually at night.

Heron retired in 1996 and was named professor emeritus at Indiana University. He and Vitelli moved to a small town in western Maine where Heron continued to photograph and began working with digital photography. During this time, he was fighting cancer; Heron died in 2012.

Reginald Heron born to British parents Reginald Forde Heron and Kathleen Mary in Marseilles, France on September 24
Family left France for Portugal during WWII
Heron arrived in New York from London on November 28. Spent some time in NY City then moved to Cincinnati where he worked as a lab tech for The Baldwin Piano Company, which he described in a letter to his mother as: "building and wiring electronic models, making routine electrical tests, etc."
Moved to Chicago to go to school. Worked briefly at Marshall Fields. Worked at American Technical Society, publisher of vocational training materials
March 1954
Returned to Lavandou, France to recover after becoming ill in the U.S.
Lived in England; attended Tonbridge and Guilford schools in England and London University. Also attended La Sorbonne in Paris
ca. 1956
Reg returned to United States; married Joanne Schmidt
Served in U.S. Army, stationed in Ludwigsburg, Germany in 1957; Mannheim, Germany in 1958. Received U.S. Army Good Conduct Medal in 1958; divorced from Joanne Schmidt Heron
Moved to Chicago where he returned to job as a technical editor for American Technical Society
Reg's father died
Heron lived in Chicago, attending school and working; married Jayne Saltzman in 1961; divorced in 1966
BS degree in photography from the Institute of Design of the Illinois Institute of Technology
Taught at the New Bauhaus/School of Design in Chicago
MS degree in photography from the Institute of Design of the Illinois Institute of Technology
1966-ca. 1970
Assistant Curator for the Equipment Archives at the International Museum of Photography at the George Eastman House in Rochester; married Ninette Rawas in 1967; later divorced
Hired by his mentor Henry Holmes Smith, taught in the School of Fine Arts at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, for the next 26 years
Married Karen Donne Vitelli
Retired at age 63, named professor emeritus at Indiana University
Moved to Dresden in western Maine, population approx. 1,500
Died on December 15 in Dresden, Maine


35 Boxes (22 linear feet)

Metadata Rights Declarations

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


Papers and photographic materials, dates, of Reginald Heron (1932-2012), photographer and educator. Includes correspondence, writings, appointment calendars, exhibition announcements, clippings, publications, photographic materials, audiovisual materials, and memorabilia.


The Collection is arranged into the following series:

  1. Series 1: Correspondence
  2. Series 2: Biographical Materials
  3. Series 3: Activity Files
  4. Series 4: Publications
  5. Series 5: Photographic Materials

Custodial History

The collection was a gift in 2014 from Karen Donne Vitelli, the photographer's widow.

Processing Information

Collection arranged and described by Dena McDuffie, 2017.

Finding aid updated by Paige Hilman, 2018.

Reginald Heron archive,circa 1920s-2013
Finding aid created by CCP Archives Staff
© 2020
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