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Henry Holmes Smith archive

Identifier: AG 32

Scope and Contents

Series one, Correspondence, includes correspondence between Smith and students, museums, galleries, photography teachers, photographers, and others concerning conferences, exhibitions, articles, photographic education, and related subjects. Also includes “v-letters” to Smith during World War II from family and friends. Some letters came with enclosures that have been kept with the correspondence, including drafts of articles, publications, newspaper clippings, and other material. Includes incoming and outgoing letters.

Series two, Writings, includes drafts of articles, tearsheets, background material, notes, bibliographies, and related material by Henry Holmes Smith. Smith's writings, although primarily concerned with photography, also include short stories, poetry, newspaper articles, cartoons, illustrations, and filmstrip scripts. Transcripts of interviews with Smith and his correspondence concerning his editorial work for Minicam magazine have also been filed with his writings. Transcripts of lectures given by Smith - which were often turned into articles - are filed with other material on lectures, conferences, and workshops he attended, and with other records from the Society for Photographic Education. Similarly, notes written by Smith for exhibitions of his work have been filed with other material on his exhibitions.

Series three, Education, contains correspondence, class outlines, student papers, lecture notes and transcripts, conference and workshop announcements and programs, administrative records, and other material relating to courses taught by Smith and those taken by him, photographic workshops and conferences, Smith's work at the New Bauhaus in Chicago, his lectures and other subjects concerning his activities as an educator. Material relating to Smith's participation in the Society for Photographic Education has been filed with other papers relating to photographic organizations.

Series four, Exhibitions, features correspondence, checklists, announcements, catalogs, exhibition notes, loan records, and other material relating to exhibitions of Smith's work. Also included are announcements and catalogs from exhibitions of interest to Smith that did not include any of his own work, along with material from exhibitions juried or arranged by Smith. Material relating to the "Photographer's Choice" exhibition, arranged by Smith, has been filed with other papers concerning the Photographer's Exhibition Service.

Series five, Photographic Organizations, contains correspondence, newsletters, by-laws, minutes of meetings, and related material concerning the Photographer's Exhibition Service (which includes several related projects organized by Smith), professional associations, and other photographic organizations.

Series six, Other Materials, includes financial records, posthumous materials compiled by Ted Smith, technical literature, tearsheets of articles, newspaper clippings, photographs of Smith and his family, audio tapes, posters and related material.

Series seven, Research Files, includes photostats, negatives, copy prints and other material collected (possibly at IMP/GEH) by Smith in preparation for an uncompleted project.

Series eight, Personal Library, contains a selection of Smith’s personal books on art and photography.

Series nine, Accruals, are materials that arrived in 1999. These materials include biographical materials, writings, manuscripts, publications, exhibition records, and correspondence. The materials are accessible to researchers but have not been fully integrated into the existing collection.


  • circa 1920s-1993


Language of Materials

Material in English

Conditions Governing Access

To access materials from this collection, please contact

Conditions Governing Use

The Smith family holds the copyright to Smith's photographs and writings and may impose restrictions on the use of selected correspondence.

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

Henry Holmes Smith (1909-1986) was an American photographer and prominent educator in photography during the mid-20th century. Smith was born in Illinois, and attended Illinois State Normal University from 1927 to 1932 where he studied art and had an interest in cartoons and illustration. He transferred to the Ohio State University where he graduated in 1933 with a degree in art.

In 1937, after meeting with Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Smith began teaching at the New Bauhaus in Chicago, which included courses in photography. Shortly after, Smith spent several years serving in the Pacific during World War II. In 1947, he went on to teach at Indiana University, where he stayed until 1977. Students of Smith include Jerry Uelsmann, Aaron Siskind and Jack Welpott, who are all represented in the archives at the Center for Creative Photography.

Smith made lasting impacts on the field of photographic education. He created one of the first graduate programs in photography as well as a history of photography course. Overall, Smith was devoted to his students and helped advance the fields of photography and photographic education through his teaching and writing.

His own work experimented with progressive photographic techniques, with an emphasis on light and color. He explored techniques such as high-speed flash photography, color photography, abstraction, and non-objective imagery.


36 Linear Feet

Metadata Rights Declarations

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


Correspondence, writings, research files, activity files, audio tapes, and photographic materials, 1920s-1993, of Henry Holmes Smith (1909-1986), photographer and educator. The bulk of the collection documents his career as an educator at the New Bauhaus School (Chicago, Ill.), his long tenure at Indiana University (Bloomington), his activities as a founding member of the Society for Photographic Education, his relationships with colleagues in the field of photographic education, and his participation in numerous conferences and workshops. Documenting his work as a photographer and critic are manuscripts and revisions of articles, transcripts of lectures, and records of the Photographer's Exhibition Service, a project initiated by Smith to encourage exhibitions and exchanges of information within the photographic community. There is also information on the exhibition and sale of his early paintings, drawings, and cartoons; texts for his short stories and poems; biographical information; and reference files on photography.


The Collection is arranged into the following series:

  1. Series 1: Correspondence, 1929-1985
  2. Series 2: Writings, 1952-1985
  3. Subseries 1: Nonfiction
  4. Subseries 2: Fiction
  5. Subseries 3: Miscellaneous
  6. Series 3: Education, 1930s-1970s
  7. Subseries 1: Courses taught by Smith
  8. Subseries 2: New Bauhaus School and Institute of Design
  9. Subseries 3: Courses taken by Smith
  10. Subseries 4: Lectures, conferences, and workshops
  11. Subseries 5: Administrative records (Indiana University)
  12. Series 4: Exhibitions, 1929-1988
  13. Subseries 1: One-man exhibitions of Smith's work
  14. Subseries 2: Group exhibitions that included Smith's work
  15. Subseries 3: Miscellaneous exhibitions (not including Smith's work
  16. Series 5: Photographic Organizations, 1947-1985
  17. Subseries 1: Photographer's Exhibition Service, 1959-1963
  18. Subseries 2: Professional associations, 1947-1985
  19. Series 6: Other materials
  20. Subseries 1: Personal and financial records, 1950s-1980s
  21. Subseries 2: Reference files, 1940s-1980s
  22. Subseries 3: Audio-visual material, 1950s-1980
  23. Series 7: Research files
  24. Subseries 1: Copy prints
  25. Subseries 2: 35mm and 4x5 negatives
  26. Subseries 3: Photostats
  27. Subseries 4: Miscellaneous research notes
  28. Subseries 5: Magazine clippings
  29. Series 8: Personal Library
  30. Series 9: Accrual, 1999
  31. Subseries 1: Biographical Materials
  32. Subseries 2: Writings and Bauhaus Materials
  33. Subseries 3: Exhibition Records
  34. Subseries 4: Correspondence, 1944-1987
  35. Subseries 5: Manuscripts and Publications

Custodial History

The Henry Holmes Smith papers were a gift from Smith initiated in 1978 and continued by his wife and son after his death.


Additional materials were received in 1999. These materials have not been fully integrated into the original donation. There are biographical materials, writings, manuscripts, publications, Bauhaus materials, exhibition records, and correspondence.

Related Materials

In addition to CCP, Smith’s works and contributions to photography can be found at Indiana University and the Getty in Los Angeles.

Processing Information

Initial survey and processing begun by A. Stark, July 1985. Correspondence by photographer was selectively removed from the files, photocopies were made for the archives, and the originals were returned to Smith as per his instructions. Photocopies were stamped to indicate their origin. More complete processing took place in August-September 1988. Mary Anne Redding prepared the new inventory. Finding aid was updated by Alexis Peregoy in 2018.

Henry Holmes Smith archive circa 1920s-1993
Finding aid updated by Alexis Peregoy
© 2018
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