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Harry Callahan miscellaneous acquisitions collection

Identifier: AG 96

Scope and Contents

The collection comprises six subgroups, each from a separate source.

Subgroup one contains the text of a 1952 gallery talk on Callahan by Peter Worth.

Subgroup two contains a videotape copy of the 16mm film Callahan made in 1967 by Jim Dow.

Subgroup three consists of a 1993 PhD dissertation on Callahan by John Pultz.

Subgroup four contains various materials (1957-1981) including letters by Callahan, clippings, photographs of Callahan, and publications.

Subgroup six contains videotape interviews of Harry Callahan by Joe B. Massey, 1998.


  • 1952-1999


Language of Materials

Material in English

Conditions Governing Access

Some restrictions may apply to this collection. See the Archivist for more information.

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

Harry Callahan was born in Detroit, Michigan on October 22, 1912. In his early years Callahan worked for Chrysler, leaving to study at Michigan State University and later returning after dropping out. It was at Chrysler that Callahan discovered photography after joining the camera club there. In 1933 Callahan met his wife Eleanor Knapp while the pair were both working at Chrysler and were set up on a blind date; they married in 1936. By 1938 Callahan was becoming a self-taught photographer, but it was not until he saw Ansel Adams speak on the topic of photography in 1941 that Callahan began to take photography and his work with it seriously. During this period Callahan formed a friendship with fellow photographer Todd Webb. In 1946 Callahan was invited to teach at the Institute of Design in Chicago by László Moholy-Nagy. Callahan and Eleanor welcomed their first and only child, Barbara, in 1950. 1961 saw a move to Rhode Island for Callahan, in order to install a photography program at the Rhode Island School of Design. Callahan would remain at the school until his retirement in 1977. He was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1996.

Callahan was not one for keeping diaries or taking many notes; little is known about his creative process. Callahan felt that the photographer should turn the lens on himself and use his own life as a subject, which was a model he followed and a concept he taught to his students. Every morning Callahan would embark on a photographic journey through his neighborhood and spend his evenings developing the photographs he had taken that morning. Many of the photographs included not only Callahan’s neighborhood but also Barbara and Eleanor. Eleanor was the subject of Callahan’s photos appearing most frequently in the years from 1947-1960. He was highly experimental in his work with Eleanor and explored techniques such as double and triple exposure, large and small format film, and blurs. Callahan took many photos but produced very few final products, producing about a dozen final images a year. He is considered an innovator of American photography and is noted for his work with black and white images.


2 Linear Feet

Metadata Rights Declarations

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


This collection contains miscellaneous materials (1952-1993) documenting the life and career of Harry Callahan (1912-1999), photographer and teacher. Each group of materials was collected from a separate source and is described individually.


The Collection is arranged into the following series:

  1. Subgroup 1, 1952, 1 folder
  2. Subgroup 2, 1967, 1 tape
  3. Subgroup 3, 1993, 2 folders
  4. Subgroup 4, n.d., 1957-1985, 1 box
  5. Subgroup 5, 1976, 1 box
  6. Subgroup 6, 1998, 1 box/11 tapes

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Subgroup one, donor unknown.

Subgroup two, gift of Beth Lilly, Image Management, Atlanta Georgia, 2000.

Subgroup three, gift of John Pultz, 2005.

Subgroup four, gift of Barbara Jean Kalin-Coutts; Source, Richard D. Wood, 2013.

Subgroup five, gift of Roxanne Malone, 2009.

Subgroup six, gift of Joe B. Massey, 2014.

Related Materials

AG 29: Harry Callahan archive

Processing Information

The materials found in Subgroup 1 were withdrawn from MISCELLANEOUS SMALL COLLECTIONS (AG 8, subgroup 54), March, 1990, by Kristi Bradford. Accrual added by A. Rule in June 2008. The finding aid was updated by Tai Huesgen in 2020.

Harry Callahan miscellaneous acquisitions collection 1952-1999
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