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Barbara Morgan miscellaneous acquisitions collection

Identifier: AG 206

Scope and Contents

Typed and handwritten manuscripts (circa 1936-1941) consisting of working papers, research, and text for Morgan’s book Martha Graham: Sixteen Dances in Photographs (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1941). These manuscript pages are unnumbered, but they were arranged in labeled sections by Morgan. NOTE: The University of Arizona Library has a copy of the published book (GV1785.G7M6).


  • circa 1936-1941


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

Barbara Morgan (born July 8, 1900) is an American photographer whose artistic inclinations also included drawings, watercolors and paintings. Morgan’s work primarily focused on photographs of modern dancers such as Martha Graham and Charles Weidman. She grew up on a peach ranch in Southern California and attended UCLA from 1919 to 1923; her training at that institution was based on the principle of art synthesis made famous by Arthur Wesley Dow. In 1925 Morgan officially joined the UCLA faculty and shortly after that she married Willard D. Morgan, a writer and photographer.

Morgan worked primarily in the Southwestern United States and in New York City. Her work in the Southwest focused on photographs of herself and Willard in various locations such as the Grand Canyon and the Hopi mesas and canyons; these photographs would later go on to appear alongside Willard’s articles as illustrations. In the summer of 1930 the couple moved to New York City in response to a job offer that Willard had received. The bustle of the city was very different from Morgan’s experience in the Southwest and a more abstract bent can be seen in her work after her move to the East Coast. In 1931 Morgan began to experiment with the technical and dark room aspects of photography, further refining her skill with help from Willard. Morgan became an early member of the Photo League in New York.

In 1935 Morgan began to focus her work and energies on the American Modern Dance Movement. A performance by the Martha Graham Dance Company showed her just how important modern dance could be socially and politically. In 1941 Morgan published her book Martha Graham: Sixteen Dances in Photographs. Graham and Morgan struck up a friendship that lasted more than sixty years and was mutually beneficial for both. In 1945 her photographs were exhibited in La Danza Moderna Norte-Americana: Fotografias por Barbara Morgan; the exhibition began at the Museum of Modern Art and then embarked on a South American tour.

Modern dance was not the only area of interest for Morgan and she desired to explore photography further and on a deeper level. She felt that light energy was an essential component of dance and she sought to document such energy by creating gestural light drawings. Morgan also documented many children through her work in children’s camps, schools, and colleges. These photos would eventually comprise her work titled Summer’s Children. Morgan sought to document life and did not believe in restricting herself to the title of either painter or photographer. In addition to her work she was also on the faculty at Black Mountain College and lectured nationally for more than fifty years. Morgan was a co-founder of Aperture Magazine. Morgan passed away on August 17th 1992.


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Metadata Rights Declarations

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


The Collection is arranged into the following series:

  1. Series 1: Miscellaneous acquisitions, circa 1936-1941, 6 folders

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Gelman Library, George Washington University, Washington, DC, 2005.

Related Materials

There are related materials in collections AG 9 Minor White miscellaneous acquisitions collection, AG 10 Wynn Bullock archive, AG 20 A.D. Coleman collection, AG 31 Ansel Adams archive, AG 38 Edward Weston archive, AG 45 Robert Heinecken archive, AG 48 Beaumont and Nancy Newhall collection, AG 77 Willard Van Dyke archive, and AG 95 Barbara Morgan collection.

Processing Information

The collection was processed circa 2005 by the Center’s Archivists. The finding aid was updated by Tai Huesgen in 2021.

Barbara Morgan miscellaneous acquisitions collection circa 1936-1941
Finding aid created by CCP Archives Staff
© 2021
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