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Laura Volkerding archive

Identifier: AG 162

Scope and Contents

The Laura Volkerding archive (1925-1996) documents the work of photographer Laura Volkerding. The materials in this collection are mostly in English, though a small amount of materials are in French, which document Volkerding’s photographic projects with the Compagnons du Devoir, her pinhole work in Poliphile, and her project photographing the foundry Coubertin. The collection is arranged into eight different series: Correspondence, undated, 1962-1994, Biographical Materials, undated, 1925-1996, Activity Files, undated, 1962-1996, Solomon’s Temple, undated, 1989-1996, AV Materials, 1981- ca. 1990s, Artifacts and Memorabilia, undated, Photographic Materials, undated, 1961-1994, and Artwork, undated, 1962-1975.

The Correspondence series contains incoming correspondence of both personal and business nature and is arranged chronologically. There is a significant amount of correspondence from architects, former students, and Volkerding’s artistic colleagues from Chicago, Stanford University, throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. When the correspondence arrived at CCP, handfuls of it were tied together in rough chronological groups, with pieces of ribbon and string. These have been preserved and can be found in AG162:19. Artists whom Volkerding corresponded with included Susan Blatchford (Berenice Abbott’s assistant), George Carlson, Minna Citron, John Ireland, Yves Grémont, An-My Lê, and Richard Kuznitsky. There are a few pieces of correspondence from other people whose archives can also be found at CCP: a single letter from Robert Sobieszek (from February 12, 1991) and a post card from Jack Welpott (ca. 1990-1993).

The bulk of the Biographical Materials series is contained within the two subseries “ESV Memories” and Personal Papers. The “ESV Memories” subseries is a collection of items saved by Laura Volkerding’s mother, Ethel Steinlage Volkerding. This subseries includes correspondence from Laura Volkerding, Laura Volkerding’s birth certificate and baby books, her Atherton High School Memorabilia, as well as family photo albums. The Personal Papers subseries contains the personal photographs of Laura Volkerding, including photos of the Volkerding herself as well as her San Francisco studio. It also includes papers and publications from Volkerding’s time at Atherton High School and the Illinois Institute of Technology, miscellaneous drawings and sketches, exhibition announcements for various artists, and publications relating to “traditional building”. The remainder of the Biographical Materials series is comprised of Laura Volkerding’s legal papers, her medical files, and her obituary and memorial service papers.

The Activity Files series contains clippings related to the work of Laura Volkerding as well as Volkerding’s professional materials: curricula vitae, letters of recommendation, the photographer’s grants and fellowship files, her professional stationary, and papers from her time at Stanford University which can be found in the Stanford University, Palo Alto, California subseries. The bulk of the series can be found in three subseries: Exhibitions, Project Files, and Inventory Lists. The Exhibitions subseries contains exhibition announcements relating to Laura Volkerding’s work as well as to exhibitions of work by other artists who were Volkerding’s contemporaries or students. It also contains announcements for exhibitions at Lightfall Gallery, which was established by Volkerding in 1968. The Project Files subseries consists of correspondence and papers related to specific photographic projects as organized by Laura Volkerding. The Inventory Lists subseries consists of Volkerding’s inventory files including information about specific sales and bestowals.

The Solomon’s Temple series is arranged into two subseries: Publication Files and Mockups and Drafts. The Publication Files subseries contains information about early publication attempts of Volkerding’s book Solomon’s Temple: The European Building-Crafts Legacy, Volkerding’s research files, and information about the finalized publication. The Mockups and Drafts subseries includes various editions of Solomon’s Temple: The European Building-Crafts Legacy from its inception to its publication.

The Audiovisual Materials series is comprised of Laura Volkerding’s removable disks, a CD of her photography, and two sets of filmstrips which include images from China taken by Volkerding. Of particular interest is a video of Berenice Abbott’s 90th birthday celebration at which Volkerding was a guest.

The Artifacts and Memorabilia series includes postcards and souvenirs from various locations which were used by Volkerding in her artwork circa 1975. This series also contains Volkerding’s burning and dodging tools, her work stamps, and two rolls of undeveloped film as well as a sculptural bust of Laura Volkerding.

The Photographic Materials series makes up the largest portion of this collection. This series is divided into four subseries: Negatives, Contact Sheets, 35mm Color Slides, and Prints. The Negatives subseries is arranged by format and then chronologically. It includes black and white 8”x10”, 5”x7”, 4”x5”, 35mm, and medium format negatives for which there are contact sheets available. The collection also includes a very small amount of color 35mm negatives for which there are no contact sheets. Contact Sheets, also called “Proof Sheets” or “Proof Prints” by Laura Volkerding, are arranged according to Volkerding’s own method. Some of the contact sheets are arranged by format and then chronologically while the rest of the contact sheets are arranged by project. 35mm Color Slides is also arranged by subject, according to Laura Volkerding’s own system. This subseries includes the slides found in Laura Volkerding’s slide carousel at the time of her death along with her handwritten notes about the images. The Prints subseries includes work prints and other photographic prints by Laura Volkerding. The series has been arranged by format and by project by Volkerding. Unlabeled groupings of work prints and specific groupings labeled by Volkerding have been arranged chronologically.

The final series of this collection, Artwork, holds a large folio of poetry by Armin Lehman for which Volkerding created artwork. The series also includes two tapestries, LPs for which Volkerding contributed the album artwork, five paintings, and Volkerding’s printmaking work of varying size. This series also contains artwork by other artists, including Thomas Barrow, Bruce Lowney, Richard Shiff, and various other artists associated with the Illinois Institute of Technology. Volkerding collected exhibition announcements and posters for many of the artists whose work is found in this series.


  • Creation: 1925-1996


Language of Materials

Material in English

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

Educator and photographer Laura Volkerding (1939-1996) began her artistic career making prints and drawings, and discovered her passion for photography in 1972, at age thirty-three. Volkerding studied fine arts at the University of Louisville and the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology where she received a Master’s degree in graphic design. She taught at University of Chicago from 1970 to 1980, and then served as a senior lecturer in photography at Stanford University until her death in 1996. Citing photographs by Walker Evans and Art Sinsabaugh, as well as Chicago’s modernist architecture as visual influences, Volkerding’s early photographic work depicts quirky vernacular architecture, campgrounds and suggestive landscapes. In the late 1970s, Laura Volkerding, Nicholas Nixon, Stephen Shore, Frank Gohlke, and Lewis Baltz were among twenty-four photographers chosen to participate in an intensive project entitled Court House that documented historic court house architecture across America. Published in 1979, the monograph Court House: A Photographic Document exhibits a diverse and inclusive examination of America’s architectural heritage. In 1980, Volkerding moved to California and embarked on a project documenting the development of the San Francisco and San Pablo Bay waterfronts creating panoramic images by joining continuous frames of 5 x 7 inch negatives into a more expansive view.

Volkerding experimented with multiple photographic formats before settling, in 1984, on the rich clarity of prints produced with a Deardorff 8 x 10 inch view camera. This same year, Volkerding discovered the subject that would drive her work for over a decade: Les Compagnons du Devoir, a French sculpture apprentice community founded in medieval times. Their history of sculptural practice and reverence for craftsmanship resonated for Volkerding. She was attracted to the figurative and architectural forms that populated their work space. Volkerding photographed classrooms and apprentice projects, foundries and workshops, and cathedral restoration projects. The images suggest the presence of the craftsmen, but are devoid of the actual artisans, thus alluding to the longer craft tradition rather than the contemporary individuals. In addition to making many photographs of Les Compagnons in France, Volkerding photographed other sculpture workshops in Quebec, Tunisia, Spain, Greece, Italy, and the United States. This body of work was exhibited at Stanford in 1986; in 1988 she was awarded her second Guggenheim fellowship. The Center for Creative Photography published a related monograph, Solomon’s Temple: the European Building-Crafts Legacy, shortly before Volkerding’s death.


Born October 16th in Louisville, KY to Frederick Volkerding and Ethel Steinlage Volkerding.
Laura’s father passes away.
Receives bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University of Louisville after being awarded the Allen R. Hite Scholarship.
Receives master’s degree in graphic design with an emphasis in printmaking from Illinois Institute of Technology where she was awarded the Moholy-Nagy Scholarship. Begins to teach printmaking part time at Evanston Art Center in Chicago, Illinois.
Appointed instructor in printmaking at Rosary College in River Forest, Illinois and marries David Bolaños.
Establishes the Lightfall Gallery for photography at the Evanston Art Center in Evanston, Illinois.
Begins working as an instructor in photography at the University of Chicago and divorces David Bolaños.
Collaborates with Dan Sandin on Stone Electric, an immersive “hydro video inflato environment” at the Evanston Art Festival
A fire destroys most of Laura’s early artwork.
Photographs included in The Edge of Photography exhibition at Lightfall Gallery in Evanston, Illinois.
Appointed Assistant Professor in printmaking at the University of Chicago.
Begins teaching photography at the University of Chicago and starts experimenting with widelux panoramas. Photographs are included in Photo-Finish exhibition at N.A.M.E. Gallery in Chicago, Illinois alongside the work of Jonas Dovydenas, Robert Stiegler, Carole Harmel, and Peter Lekousis.
Photographs included in 10x10 exhibition at Galesburg Civic Art Center in Galesburg, Illinois. Artwork is exhibited at Dobrick Gallery in Chicago, Illinois
First solo-exhibition of photographs: Panoramas at Two Illinois Center in Chicago. Other solo exhibitions include Laura Volkerding: Photograph at Gallery 37 in Northridge, California and at the Fogg Museum at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Photographs also included along with the work of Art Sinsibaugh and Eadweard Muybridge in Panoramic Photographs at Grey Gallery, New York, New York, Chicago Survey at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, and Chicago Photographers with Harry Callahan, Arthur Siegel, and Aaron Siskind at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Photographs are published in Court House, written and edited by Phyllis Lambert and Richard Pare, and are included in accompanying travelling exhibition. Also travels to the People’s Republic of China for a photographic project.
Begins photographing Chicago gospel churches. Photographs are included in 70s Wide-View with James Alinder, Anne Noggle, and At Sinsibaugh at Dittmar Memorial Gallery in Evanston, Illinois, Midwestern Photographers at Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and Artists of the Committee on Art and Design at Smart Gallery in Chicago, Illinois.
Becomes senior lecturer of photography at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, purchases a 5x7 Deardorff view camera, and begins experimenting with large format photography and multiple frame panoramas. Exhibits her photographs in Laura Volkerding: New Photographs at The Renaissance Society in Chicago, Illinois and in New Landscapes by The Friends of Photography in Carmel, California.
Receives summer research fellowship from Stanford University and photographs the Pacific Coast. Exhibitions include Laura Volkerding: Panoramic Photographs at the Stanford Museum of Art, The Panoramic Image at Hansard Gallery in Southampton, England, and Traces: Photographs by Jonas Dovydenas, Luis Medina, Laura Volkerding at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, Chicago, Illinois.
Buys a home and builds a studio at 148 Bertita in San Francisco. Exhibitions include Photo Art I: Six California Women Photographers at Photokina in Cologne, Germany, SECA Photography Invitational at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Critic’s Choice at Eaton-Shoen Gallery in San Francisco, California.
Exhibitions include Photographs by Laura Volkerding at Rice University Media Center in Houston, Texas, Landscape Now at Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture in San Francisco, California, The Divided Landscape at Robert Freidus Gallery in New York, and New American Photographs at California State College’s Art Gallery, San Bernadino, California.
Purchases an 8”x10” Deardorff view camera and visits Gladding, McBean: a ceramics company in Lincoln, California. Exhibitions include California: The Changing Landscape at Phillippe Bonnafont Gallery in San Francisco, Stanford Studio Faculty at the Stanford University Museum of Art in Palo Alto, California, and In Perspective at the Palo Alto Cultural Center.
Travels to the Foundry of Coubertin in St. Rémy Les Chevreuse, France and discovers les Compagnons du Devoir. Exhibitions include Settings: The Civic Center Project at Giannini Bank of America World Headquarters in San Francisco, California and Panoramic Photographs at Coos Art Museum in Coos Bay, Oregon, 50th Anniversary Acquisitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and The Cabin, The Temple, The Trailer at the Oakland Museum in Oakland, California.
Awarded Prix de Paris fellowship by Cité International des Arts and travels to Paris for six weeks to photograph the Foundry of Coubertin once again. Exhibitions include Fourth Annual Juried Photography Exhibition at the Monterey Peninsula Museum of Art in Monterey, California.
Laura’s mother, Ethel, passes away on June 30th. Volkerding travels to Crete and is commissioned to photograph the restoration work of the Old Shaughnessy House for the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal. Photographs included in Stanford Artists in New York at the Charles Cowles Annex Gallery in New York City.
Receives Guggenheim fellowship and travels to France to photograph the metal, wood, and stone workshops of the Compagnons du Devoir. Also travels to Sardinia, Sicily, Tunisia, Nice, and Italy. Exhibitions include Laura Volkerding: Photographs of Workshops at the Stanford University Museum of Art.
Teaches at Stanford’s Overseas Studies in Tours, France and photographs Spain, France, and Greece. Upon returning to San Francisco, creates the first version of Solomon’s Temple. Returns to France and photographs the workshops of the Compagnons du Devoir. Exhibitions include Recents Enrichissements at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, France.
Photographs a restoration training center in San Servelo, Italy. Exhibitions include Photographs by Laura Volkerding at the Concourse Gallery of the San Francisco International Airport.
Returns to France with stonecutter Stella Cheng and photographs the houses of the Compagnons du Devoir. At the end of the trip, Laura Volkerding’s car is broken into and much of her work is stolen. Exhibitions include Panorama des Panoramas at the Centre National de la Photographie in Paris, France and Panorama of California at the Oakland Museum in Oakland, California.
Returns to France in April to photograph the restoration of Mairie at Issy-les-Moulineaux. Photographs are included in Summer Pastimes: Photographs from the Seagram Collection along with the work of Walker Evans, Lewis Hine, and Lee Friedlander at the Seagram Gallery in New York City and Eugene Atget/ Laura Volkerding at Turner/Krull Gallery in Los Angeles, California.
Exhibitions include Laura Volkerding: Taking the Side of Things at Alinder Gallery in Gualala, California and Artist’s Self Portraits in Black and White: A Benefit Exhibition for ZYZZYVA at the Edith Caldwell Gallery in San Francisco. Also served on a jury panel for Group f.64’s biannual photographic competition at the Oakland Museum in Oakland, California.
Receives a residency fellowship from the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France and spends five months experimenting with large format pinhole images. Before returning to San Francisco, Volkerding purchases a small farmhouse in the Loire River Valley. Exhibitions include The Camargo Camera at the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France, La Foundation de Coubertin: ses activites, ses collections in St. Remy-les-Chevreuse, France, Choices at the Oakland Museum in Oakland California, and Traditions Re-defined: Contemporary American Photography at Wildwood Gallery.
Undergoes chemotherapy and radiation treatment for malignant brain tumor and visits her farmhouse in France. Exhibitions include The Dream of Poliphile at Craig Krull Gallery in Santa Monica, California, Fifth Anniversary Exhibition at the Alinder Gallery in Gualala, California and Four Photographers Visit Quebec at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal, Canada. Cancels Solomon’s Temple exhibition with the Alliance Francaise of San Francisco due to health problems.
Publishes Solomon’s Temple: European Building-Crafts Legacy shortly before passing away on September 3rd.


132 Linear Feet

Metadata Rights Declarations

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


The papers and photographic materials of photographer and educator Laura Volkerding (1939-1996). The collection contains correspondence, biographical materials, negatives, contact sheets, 35mm slides, audio visual materials, work prints, visual artifacts, publications, and ephemera of and about Laura Volkerding.


The Collection is arranged into the following series:

Series 1: Correspondence, n.d., 1962-1994, 10 boxes

Series 2: Biographical materials, n.d., 1925-1996, 6 boxes

  1. Subseries 1: “ESV Memories,” 1938-1987, 2 boxes
  2. Subseries 2: Personal papers, n.d., 1960-1996, 4 boxes

Series 3: Activity files, n.d., 1962-1996, 4 boxes

  1. Subseries 1: Awards, clippings, and exhibition materials, n.d., circa 1962-1996, 1 box
  2. Subseries 2: Project files, n.d., 1981-1996, 1 box
  3. Subseries 3: Inventory lists, n.d., 1980-1996, 1 box
  4. Subseries 4: Other materials, n.d., 1963-1996, 3 boxes

Series 4: Solomon’s Temple, n.d., 1989-1996, 2 boxes

Series 5: Audiovisual materials, 1981-circa 1990s, 1 box

Series 6: Artifacts and memorabilia, n.d., 9 boxes

Series 7: Photographic materials, n.d., 1961-1994, 92 boxes

  1. Subseries 1: Negatives, n.d., 1961-1994, 24 boxes
  2. Subseries 2: B/W Contact sheets, n.d., 1961-1994, 14 boxes
  3. Subseries 3: 35mm Color slides, n.d., n.d., 1962-1993, 5 boxes
  4. Subseries 4: Prints, n.d., 1961-1995, 49 boxes
  5. Sub-subseries 1: B/W Work prints, n.d., 1971-1987, 19 boxes
  6. Sub-subseries 2: B/W Prints, n.d., 1961-1995, 30 boxes

Series 8: Artwork, n.d., 1962-1992, 7 boxes

  1. Subseries 1: By Laura Volkerding, n.d., 1962-1976, 6 boxes
  2. Subseries 2: Prints by other artists, n.d., 1963-1992, 1 box

Appendix A: Selected index related to the correspondence

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was a gift from Laura Volkerding in 1996.

Related Materials

AG 256 Laura Volkerding Miscellaneous Acquisitions collection.

There are 968 Laura Volkerding prints in the CCP fine prints collection.

Processing Information

Initial hard copies of the preliminary inventory were created by A. Rule and A. Linker in October 1998. The correspondence in this collection was then processed by Emily Una Weirich in the summer of 2011. The remainder of the collection was processed and the finding aid updated by Lenox Wiese from October 2015 to April 2016. The finding aid was updated by Tai Huesgen in 2019.

Laura Volkerding archive 1925-1996
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