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Barbara Crane archive

Identifier: AG 176

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents

The Barbara Crane Archive consists of personal and business papers, audiovisual materials, and photographic materials given to the Center for Creative Photography by noted teacher-photographer Barbara Crane. The material spans the years from 1946 to 2013 with the majority falling in the years 1963 to 1995. Basic series have been established and folder labels have been recorded together with available dates. It is hoped that this temporary arrangement of Barbara Crane’s papers and photographic materials will enable students, scholars, and other interested parties to gain access to the collection and to learn about the photographer’s methods in her art and in her teaching.

The biographical materials consist primarily of the day calendars of Barbara Crane from 1978 to 1993. Calendars for the years 1987 and 1991 are missing. Barbara Crane’s correspondence was originally separated in her files into three groups: personal correspondence, business correspondence, and correspondence with students. These three correspondence groups have been merged, and the correspondence has been arranged into a chronological sequence, with an alphabetical sub-arrangement. Barbara Crane’s correspondence spans from 1963 to 1999, with the bulk of the material falling between the years 1970 to 1998. In addition to the Correspondence series, teaching and business-related correspondence may also be found within the Teaching subseries of the Activity Files series, as well as within the Exhibitions series.

Crane’s major projects have been brought together as Activity Files. These include her major photographic projects such as the Chicago Landmarks Project, the Centex Industrial Park Portraits, and the O’Hare International Terminal Project as well as her teaching projects at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as well as numerous workshops. Crane’s lecture notes are organized by year from 1977 to 1997 with some additional undated notes. No folders exist for the years 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1992, or 1994 to 1996.

The exhibition history of Barbara Crane is documented in four boxes of material that spans the years from 1970 to 1998. These materials include correspondence, photograph lists, insurance valuations, and shipping records. The folders vary in being labeled for the year of the exhibition and the name of the exhibition venue.

Five boxes document Crane’s publications and run from her Bachelor’s degree thesis (“A Study of Religious Architecture”) through the numerous periodicals that have featured her work, to the book Barbara Crane: 1948-1980 which was published in 1981 by the Center for Creative Photography. Three additional boxes hold numerous audio and video tapes of Crane’s talks, lectures, and interviews.

The photographic materials consist of negatives, prints, negatives and contact sheets, copy negatives of major shows, as well as some of the “found objects” used in the prints Crane labels, “Objets Trouvees.” Crane’s item numbers have been retained in the photographic materials series as a link to her descriptions of their contents and numerical counts. The series holds some prints including four accordion books of color Polaroid prints document her “Desert Sequences,” which were precursors to her work, “Visons of Enarc.” A box of materials containing Paul Vanderbilt’s slide lecture regarding the Wisconsin State Historical Society Collection is also included in Crane’s photographic materials.

The Center’s fine print collection has 69 prints of Crane’s work, and the control file has an eight-page abbreviated curriculum vitae for the artist.


  • undated, 1946-2013


Language of Materials

Material in English

Conditions Governing Access

To access materials from this collection, please contact

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright for the collection is held by Barbara Crane.

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

Barbara Crane (1928-2019) was an American-born photographer, best known for her overexposed and overdeveloped layering of photographs. She was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1928. Crane studied at Mills College in Oakland, California and in 1950 she received her BA in art history from New York University. After submitting her portfolio to Aaron Siskind in 1964, she was admitted to the Graduate Program in Photography at the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Crane studied under Siskind while attending school. She received her MS from the institute in 1966.

While studying at the Institute of Design she was hired to chair the photography program at the New Trier High School in Winnetka Illinois, where she taught for three years. After her graduation she taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for 28 years. In 1995, Crane became Professor Emeritus at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Crane’s style developed from a lack of resources. She began to abstract her photographs, playing with light, shadow, and form of her subjects. In her artist statement, Crane states, “I keep searching for what is visually new to me while always hoping that a fusion of form and content will take place” (Barbara Crane, Artist Statement, 2002).

Barbara Crane is the recipient of many awards including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in Photography grant in 1979, two National Endowment for the Arts grants in 1974 and 1988, and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship Award in Photography in 2001, among others. In 2013, Barbara Crane was named artist honoree at the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago, Illinois.

Barbara Crane collaborated with the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, Arizona to create a career retrospective for herself. Crane’s archives currently reside at the CPP. She died in Chicago in August, 2019.


30 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, 1946-1999, of Barbara Crane (1928-2019), photographer and teacher. Includes photographs, negatives, contact sheets, audiovisual materials, personal correspondence, business correspondence, teaching notes, writings, publication ideas, day calendars, a scrapbook, financial records, and objects.


The Collection is arranged into the following series:

Series 1: Biographical materials, n.d., 1978-2011, 2 boxes

Series 2: Correspondence, n.d., 1963-1995, 13 boxes

Series 3: Financial records, 1963-1995, 1 box

Series 4: Activity files, n.d., 1962-1997, 9 boxes

  1. Subseries 1: Photographic projects, 1962-1996, 2 boxes
  2. Subseries 2: Teaching, n.d., late 1960s-1997, 7 boxes
  3. Sub-subseries 1: Workshop and teaching assignments, n.d., late 1960s-1994, 3 boxes
  4. Sub-subseries 2: Lecture notes, n.d., 1977-1997, 1 box
  5. Sub-subseries 3: Contracts and correspondence, n.d., 1978-1996, 1 box
  6. Sub-subseries 4: Transparencies used, n.d., 1 box
  7. Sub-subseries 5: Student pictures of Barbara Crane exhibition at University of Arkansas, 1988, 1 box
  8. Subseries 3: Research files, n.d., 1 box

Series 5: Exhibitions, n.d., 1970-2008, 6 boxes

Series 6: Oversize material, 1962-1989, 2 boxes

Series 7: Publications, n.d., 1967-2013, 7 boxes

Series 8: Audiovisual material, n.d., 1971-1998, 3 boxes

  1. Subseries 1: Videos, n.d., 1977-1993, 1 box
  2. Subseries 2: Audio cassettes, n.d., 1971-1998, 2 boxes

Series 9: Photographic material, n.d., 1946-1987, 14 boxes

  1. Subseries 1: Negatives, n.d., 1946-1982, 3 boxes
  2. Subseries 2: Prints, n.d., 1960-1982, 5 boxes
  3. Subseries 3: Negatives and contact sheets in paper boxes, n.d., 1961-1987, 3 boxes
  4. Subseries 4: Prints, photo sequences, and mixed media, n.d., 1976, 3 boxes

Series 10: Unprocessed material, n.d.

Appendix A: Index to Correspondence

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The material in this collection was a joint gift of Barbara Crane and her daughter, Jennifer Crane, in 1999. Additional materials were gifted by Barbara Crane in 2013.


Additional materials were acquired in 2013.

Related Materials

There are 69 Barbara Crane prints in the CCP fine prints collection and an 8-page abbreviated curriculum vitae for the artist in the CCP control files.

Processing Information

Processed in 2002 by Shaw Kinsley. Additional processing completed in June 2013 by Sarah Helbling, and in January-May 2014 by Kayleigh Hoffsmith. Finding aid was updated by Tai Huesgen in 2019.

Finding aid for the Barbara Crane archive 1946-2013
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