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Dean Brown archive

Identifier: AG 18

Scope and Contents

The first series, Correspondence, contains correspondence with publishers, institutions, business, photographers, friends, and others. The majority of the correspondence concerns Brown's career as a professional photographers. There is very little correspondence of a personal nature. Correspondence with enclosures has been kept together. There are many carbon copies of letters by Brown. Photocopies of letters from Dean Brown to his wife Carol between 1958 and 1973 are located in "Activity Files" and "Biographical and Personal Files." See also "Activity Files," "Exhibition Files," "Biographical and Personal Files," and "Photographic Assignments and Projects."

The second series, Activity files, contains six subseries: exhibition files, biographical and personal files, photographic assignments and projects, business and financial records, technical literature and notes, and publications.

The exhibition files contain correspondence, announcements, invitations, brochures, and other material relating to exhibitions of Brown's work as a professional photographers.

The biographical and personal files subseries includes diaries, calendars, resumes, notebooks, biographical statements, newspaper clippings, business cards, interviews, and other material relating to Brown's personal life and career as a photographer. Included are excerpts from diaries by Carol Brown about their activities in California and the Southwest between 1969 and 1973. The diaries and notebooks are significant in that they detail Brown's daily activities. Photocopies of letters from Dean Brown to his wife between 1958 and 1973 are included.

The photographic assignments and projects subseries includes correspondence, assignment notes, handwritten and typed manuscripts, tear sheets, film records, model releases, and other material for Brown's major photographic assignments. The material is concerned particularly with assignments that were used in books. For material derived from smaller assignments see "Publications" and "General Correspondence."

The business and financial records subseries contains invoices, receipts, brochures, expense accounts, and other materials related to Brown’s professional activities.

The technical literature and notes subseries includes instructional manuals, darkroom layout plans, and Brown’s notes on technical aspects of photography, particularly about the dye transfer process.

The publications subseries contains publications that feature Brown’s photographs in periodicals, brochures, announcements, programs, and books. This section is divided into periodicals, miscellaneous commercial publications, tear sheets, and books.

The third series, Photographic materials, contains the following subseries: contact sheets, negatives, transparencies, dye transfer materials, and work prints (including personal prints).

The black and white contact sheets covering Brown’s years as an amateur professional photographer. This collection contains a dated contact sheet for nearly every roll of black and white film Brown exposed. These dates make it possible to closely detail Brown’s movements from day to day over a ten-year period.

The negatives include mostly black and white 35mm., 6x6 cm., and 4x5 in. negatives which correspond to the contact sheets.

The transparencies include 35 mm slides, mostly in color, of Brown’s freelance projects, small commercial assignments, and large commercial projects. Included in the large commercial projects is work for Time-Life Books. Some of the slides were later printed as dye transfer prints by both Brown and Berkey K+L Custom Services. Also included in this series are a small number of larger format color transparencies. The slides are stored in slide pages in boxes and drawers of metal slide cabinets.

The dye transfer materials include separation negatives, matrices, proof prints, and printing notes used by Brown in making dye transfer prints. Also included is dye transfer material done by Berkey K + L Laboratory for a posthumous exhibition in 1976.

The work prints include both color and black and white, done by Brown for personal and commercial purposes.


  • Creation: circa 1960 - 1976


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

Dean Brown was born July 10, 1936, at Newport News, Virginia and was one of six boys. He was a bright, active child, involved in many hobbies, such as folk dancing, hiking, and ham radio broadcasting. In school, he excelled at mathematics, music, and photography. His first photographs and printings took place in 1946 at the age of 10. He attended high school in Virginia from 1950-1954, and during the last two years, he worked as a truck driver and delivery man. From 1954-1956, Brown was a student of linguistics at Cornell University, and then studied music from 1957-1961 at Brooklyn College in New York, earning a B.A. In 1960, Brown married Carol Anderson, a painter whom he had met at Cornell. Upon receiving a B.A. from Brooklyn College in 1961, he studied musicology at New York University from which he received an M.A. in 1965. During the next two years he played viola de gamba professionally with the newly formed Waverly Consort, completed all course work at the New York University for a doctorate and taught musicology at Brooklyn College.

In 1967, he left teaching and became a professional, freelance photographer, concentrating on portraits of artists, musicians, family, and wilderness landscapes. Through 1968, he engaged mostly in portraiture and began experimenting in other photographic mediums such as color and Kodalith. He photographed the funerals of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy from a television set, and he began working for various publications including Opera News. By 1969, Brown was involved in commercial projects for Opera News, New York, Fortune, Redbook, Mademoiselle, and Seventeen, among other magazines. By 1969, Brown abandons black and white photography almost entirely for color.

Brown traveled extensively, photographing opera houses in San Francisco, California; Santa Fe, New Mexico; San Antonio, Texas; and Berlin, Germany. While in Berlin, he did a photographic study of the city. This was also the first year that he and his wife Carol traveled together to the Southwest to photograph and paint the landscape. He also begins using the dye transfer process for his printings and works photographing the Arizona desert. In 1970, Brown hosts his first show, which also featured his wife’s work, at the Witkin Gallery in New York. By 1971, the publication Landscape Gardening is published through Life-Time Books, and features Brown’s work on the east coast, Texas, Arizona, California, Colorado and the Northeast.

Brown’s business continued to grow throughout the next three years and included many clients. Much of his work was being done for Time-Life Books, which sent him all over the United States to photograph the wilderness. He continued to make dye transfer prints and work on his own photographic projects. On July 8, 1973, while on an assignment in the White Mountains of New Hampshire for Time-Life Books’ New England Wilds, Brown died as a result of a fall from a cliff. He was 37 years old.


95 Boxes (62.5 linear feet)

Metadata Rights Declarations

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


Photographic materials and papers, circa 1960 - 1976, of Dean Brown (1936 - 1973), photographer. The bulk of the collection consists of contact sheets, negatives, transparencies, dye transfer materials, and work prints documenting his entire career. The papers relate directly to Brown's photographic career and include business and some personal correspondence, exhibition files, biographical and personal files, photographic assignments and projects, business and financial records, technical literature, and publications. Most of the material spans only a period of approximately six years. However, these six years encompass Brown's photographic career. This was a period of growth and exploration for Brown. He had abandoned the musical profession to pursue photography full time. One is able to trace his photographic career from its free-lance commercial beginnings to extensive assignments photographing the American wilderness for Time-Life Books. Much information regards his mastering the dye transfer process of print making. Lab notes, correspondence, separation negatives, matrices, and proof prints are abundant. They document the process of trial and error Brown went through to teach himself the technique of dye transfer printing. There is virtually a complete collection of periodicals and tear sheets in which Brown's photographs were published. In addition, there is correspondence regarding these assignments, shooting scripts, assignment notes, film records, expense accounts, and diaries.


The Collection is arranged into the following series:

  1. Series 1: Correspondence, 1962-1973, .5 linear ft. (11 folders)
  2. Series 2: Activity Files, 1958-1982, 9.7 linear ft.
  3. Subseries 1: Exhibition files, 1968-1982, .2 linear ft. (11 folders)
  4. Subseries 2: Biographical and personal files, 1958-1973, 1.75 linear ft. (2 boxes)
  5. Subseries 3: Photographic assignments and projects, 1967-1973, .75 linear ft. (1 box)
  6. Subseries 4: Business and financial records, 1967-1976, 1.2 linear ft. (17 folders)
  7. Subseries 5: Technical literature and notes, circa 1970-1972, .3 linear ft. (4 folders)
  8. Subseries 6: Publications, 1968-1974, 5.5 linear ft. (10 boxes)
  9. Series 3: Photographic Materials, circa 1950s-1976, 52.25 linear ft.
  10. Subseries 1: Contact sheets, 1960-1973, 7.25 linear ft. (12 boxes)
  11. Subseries 2: Negatives, 1960-1973, 6 linear ft. (15 boxes)
  12. Subseries 3: Transparencies, 1961-1973, 33 linear ft. (51 boxes, 5 metal cabinets)
  13. Subseries 4: Dye transfer materials, 1969-1976, 3 linear ft. (6 boxes)
  14. Subseries 5: Work prints, including personal prints, circa 1950s-1976 (6 boxes)

Custodial History

This collection was donated to the Center by Dean’s wife, Carol, in 1979.

Related Materials

There are prints held in the Fine Print collection at the Center.

Missing Box Numbers

In 2022, a rehousing and description project was conducted to better the preservation of and access to the materials. The content is now housed in boxes 96 through 172. Boxes 55 through 83 no longer exist

Processing Information

The collection was processed circa 1980 by the Center’s archivists. Guide Series Number 12, a comprehensive finding guide, was completed in 1985 and is available upon request. The finding aid was updated by Alexis Peregoy in December 2016.

Dean Brown archive circa 1960-1976
Finding aid created updated by Alexis Peregoy, Updated by Braden Hale in 2022.
© 2016
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