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Beaumont and Nancy Newhall collection

Identifier: AG 48

Scope and Contents

These papers represent one important segment of the personal papers of Nancy Newhall, and to a lesser extent those of Beaumont Newhall. These letters and writings were culled by Beaumont Newhall, and were sent to the Center after Nancy Newhall's death in 1974. They were intended to complement the archive of Ansel Adams which had already been committed to the Center. Some of the Nancy Newhall papers were at one time integrated into the Adams archive, but an attempt has been made to return those papers to this collection. Researchers should, however, consult both collections, especially the correspondence series. The bulk of the material in this collection relates to the career of Nancy Newhall and begins in the late 1930s and continues until her death in 1974; a lesser amount of material is present for Beaumont Newhall, especially his Photography: Essays and Images, and his final revision of The History of Photography. The general correspondence, 1942 78, contains personal and business correspondence between the Newhalls and editors, publishers, artists, curators, museums and universities. Since the Newhalls worked together and often on similar topics, much of the personal correspondence is directed to both of them. However, in the specific business and subject files, the material is directed to that person with a major concern in the particular project. A selected index has been prepared to cover the many personal and institutional names in this correspondence. In addition, a selected index has been made for the Adams Newhall letters.


  • Creation: 1930-1983


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

To access materials from this collection, please contact

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright to images and writings by the Newhalls is held in trust. For permission to copy or publish copyrighted materials in the CCP collection, contact: David Scheinbaum, Co-Executor of the Beaumont and Nancy Newhall Estate, 369 Montezuma Avenue, Suite 345, Santa Fe, NM 87501.

Biographical Notes

Beaumont Newhall

Beaumont Newhall was born in Lynn, Massachusetts on June 22, 1908. Degrees in art history from Harvard (A.B. in 1930, M.A. in 1931) led to a brief stint as a lecturer at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, then a position in the Department of Decorative Arts at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art. After further studies at the Institut d'Art et d'Archéologie, University of Paris and the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, Newhall was hired as the librarian at MOMA in 1935. In 1937, Newhall presented "Photography 1839-1937," an exhibition surveying the history of the medium that he had prepared at the invitation of Alfred H. Barr, the museum's director. An expanded version of Mr. Newhall's catalogue essay was published by the museum the following year as "Photography: A Short Critical History." A Guggenheim Foundation fellowship in 1947 enabled Newhall to enlarge this essay into a book, now titled "The History of Photography, 1839 to the Present." Revised by Newhall several times over the next 35 years, this book has become a standard general history of photography. Newhall was appointed the first curator of photography at MOMA in 1940, a position he held until 1945. From 1948 to 1958 Newhall was curator of the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House. He was its director from 1958 to 1971, during part of which time (1968-1971) he also professor of Art at State University of New York at Buffalo. In 1971, he moved to Albuquerque, where he became professor of Art at UNM until 1984. He was appointed professor emeritus upon his retirement. He died at his home in Santa Fe, from complications from a stroke, February 26, 1993.

Nancy Newhall

Nancy Newhall, née Nancy Wynne, was born in Lynn, Massachusetts on May 9, 1908. As a photography critic, conservationist, and editor, she was an important contributor to the development of the photograph book as an art form. Newhall attended Smith College and was a member of the Art Students League of New York. Her career began when in 1943 she became acting curator of the photography department at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City, substituting for her husband, Beaumont Newhall, the photography historian and founder of the department, while he was in military service. A founding member of Aperture magazine, Newhall helped to conceptually shape the publication and was a frequent contributor. She collaborated with many of the photographic luminaries of the day—Ansel Adams, Edward and Brett Weston, Paul Strand, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Minor White—writing text to accompany their images for magazine articles and books. Newhall died following a rafting accident while vacationing with her husband in Grand Teton National Park on July 7, 1974.


9.5 Linear Feet

Metadata Rights Declarations

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


Correspondence, writings, and subject files, 1930-1983, of Beaumont Newhall (l908-1993), and Nancy Newhall (l908-1974), art historians, curators, teachers, and authors. Includes correspondence with noted photographers Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and others; published and unpublished manuscripts by Nancy Newhall concerning Ansel Adams, such as Death Valley (l953), The Eloquent Light (l963), and The Enduring Moment (ca.1971); writings by Beaumont Newhall including Photography: Essays and Images (l980) and his revised and enlarged edition of The History of Photography (l98l); and printed materials relating to their wide interests.


Series List:

  1. Series I: Correspondence
  2. Series II: Writings
  3. Series III: Subject Files
  4. Series IV: Oversize Materials
  5. Appendix

Custodial History

This collection began as a gift from Beaumont Newhall to the CCP in 1975.

Beaumont and Nancy Newhall collection 1930-1983AG 48
Edited Full Draft
Processed by Yunzhen Wan
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding guide is in English

Repository Details

Part of the Center for Creative Photography Archives Repository

1030 N. Olive RD
Tucson Arizona 85721 United States