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Paul Strand collection

Identifier: AG 17

Scope and Contents

The Strand Collection contains material documenting Paul Strand's book and exhibition projects, his writing about photography and art. Much of this material consists of correspondence and Strand's working notes. Particularly well documented in the Collection are the books La France de Profil (1952), Un Paese (1955), Tir a' Mhurain (1962), Living Egypt (1969), Ghana: An African Portrait (1976), and Paul Strand: A Retrospective Monograph (1970). The major exhibitions documented include the 1945 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, and the 1971 retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Strand's writings include reviews of work by Georgia O'Keeffe and John Marin, his lectures at the Institute of Design at the founding of the photography program there in the summer of 1946, and articles written throughout his career. Writings by others include numerous articles about Strand, and submissions for the 1922 issue of MSS edited by Strand and titled "Can A Photograph Have the Significance of Art?"

The Collection also includes both incoming and outgoing correspondence. Correspondents include Strand's family as well as Alfred Stieglitz (1916-1933), Georgia O'Keeffe (1917-1934), Rebecca Strand (1920-1934), Ansel Adams (1940-1964), Beaumont Newhall (1947-1973), Virginia Stevens (1940-1974), and Elizabeth McCausland (1931-1966). Other correspondents include Strand's collaborators on his book projects; Nancy Newhall (1947-1973), Basil Davidson (1954-1975), James Aldridge (1954-1974), Claude Roy (1953-1969), and Cesare Zavattini (1954-1974). Strand's friendship and correspondence with Harold Clurman (1928-1968) offers insights into the activities of the Group Theatre in the 1930s.

Except for Paul Strand's early childhood, his life and work are well documented in the Collection. Strand's scrapbooks (1902-1976) contain exhibition catalogs, announcements, correspondence, clippings, and other ephemera, offering a rich resource documenting his career as well as those of other artists associated with him and Alfred Stieglitz.

The Paul Strand Collection at the Center for Creative Photography does not contain copies of Strand's films or original negatives. A selection of his prints is contained in the Center's fine print collection.


  • Creation: 1902-1976


Language of Materials

Material in English

Conditions Governing Access

To access materials from this collection, please contact

Conditions Governing Use

The Aperture Foundation, Inc. administers copyright to Strand's photographs and writings.

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

Paul Strand was born in 1890 in New York City and began studying photography at age 17 under documentary-photographer Lewis H. Hine at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School. In 1908, Strand joined the Camera Club of New York and began experimenting with soft-focus lenses, gum prints and enlarged negatives. By 1912, Strand was working as a commercial photographer and continuing his photography experiments, often seeking criticism from renowned photographer Alfred Stieglitz. In 1916, Strand had his first solo exhibition at Stieglitz’s “291” gallery and was also published in Camera Work that same year.

After serving as an x-ray technician for the U.S. Army Medical Corps in the first world war, Paul Strand collaborated with artist Charles Sheeler in the production of the film Manhatta (New York the Magnificent) in 1921. Strand continued on to work in the film industry as a cameraman for a medical film company; later, when the medical film company went out of business, Strand worked as a freelance motion picture cameraman. In 1923, Strand delivered the lecture “The Art Motive in Photography” at the Clarence H. White School of Photography, which was later published in the British Journal of Photography. In 1925, Strand was in an exhibition called Seven Americans at the Anderson Galleries in New York alongside artists Charles Demuth, John Marin, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O’Keeffe, Alfred Stieglitz and Arthur Dove. Beginning in 1927, Strand photographed a series of extreme close-ups of plants, driftwood and rocks. From 1932 to 1934, Strand was appointed the Chief of Photography and Cinematography for the Department of Fine Arts at the Secretariat of Education for the Mexican government. During this period, Strand photographed and supervised the production of the government-sponsored film Redes, or The Wave in the U.S.

In 1935, Paul Strand traveled to Moscow where he was offered a position as a photographer for USSR in Construction. Strand ultimately declined and returned to the U.S. There, he worked with Ralph Steiner and Leo Hurwitz to produce The Plow That Broke the Plains for the U.S. Resettlement Administration. In 1937, Strand founded Frontier Films, a non-profit educational film company. Among the notable films that Frontier Films released are Heart of Spain and Native Land. In 1943, Strand worked as a cameraman on various film projects for U.S. government agencies. However, Strand returned to photography after a decade of working in film in 1944. Strand had a major exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York called Photographs 1915-1945 by Paul Strand.

Paul Strand moved to Europe in 1948, eventually settling in Orgeval, France in 1951. Throughout the mid-1950s, Strand worked on a series of portraits of prominent French intellectuals and close-ups of his garden in Orgeval. In 1959, Strand traveled to Egypt for two and a half months, where he photographed for Living Egypt. Strand then traveled to Morocco in 1962 to begin working on a new series of photographs that were published in Tir a' Mhurain: Outer Hebrides. During the 1960s, Strand photographed in Romania and Ghana, received a David Octavius Hill Medal from the Gesellschaft Deutscher Lichtbildner, and had a series of exhibitions held around the world. Paul Strand: A Retrospective Monograph, The Years 1915-1968 was published in 1971, with an exhibition running from 1971 to 1974. In 1973, Strand was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an honorary member of the American Society of Magazine Photographers, and a fellow of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Strand continued to work until he died from a long-term illness on March 31, 1976 in Orgeval, France.

Born 16 October, New York City, of Bohemian descent.
Enrolls Ethical Cultural High School (New York).
Joins photography class given by Lewis H. Hine. Goes with Hine to Alfred Stieglitz' Little Gallery of the Photo-Secession ("291") to see exhibition of photography. Decides to become a photographer.
Joins Camera Club of New York. Begins experiments with soft-focus lenses, gumprints, enlarged negatives.
Graduates Ethical Cultural High School. Goes into business with father.
To Europe for the summer. Works at various jobs.
Sets up as a commercial photographer. Continues serious experiments with photography, returning to Stieglitz every few years for criticism. Influenced by Picasso, Braque, Brancusi, and others seen at "291" and the Armory Show.
First experiments with photographic abstraction. Brings folio of new works to the Photo-Secession to show Stieglitz; Stieglitz promises to show and publish in Camera Work.
First one-man exhibition at "291." First publication in Camera Work, 48.
First close-ups of machine forms. Camera Work, 49/50 devoted entirely to Strand. Publishes article, "Photography," Seven Arts Chronicle, 2 (August 1917).
Serves in the U.S. Army Medical Corps (Fort Snelling, Minnesota) as an X-ray technician.
Takes short trip to Nova Scotia. First landscapes and close-ups of rock formations.
Makes film Manhatta (New York the Magnificent) with Charles Sheeler. Joins medical film company as a cameraman. First close-ups of plants. Publishes article, "American Watercolors at the Brooklyn Museum," Arts, 2 (December 1921).
Buys an Akeley motion picture camera and sets up as a free-lance motion picture cameraman when medical film company goes out of business. Continues still photographs of machines. Marries Rebecca Salsbury. Publishes article, "John Marin," Art Review, January 1922.
Delivers lecture, "The Art Motive in Photography," Clarence H. White School of Photography, 23 March 1923. [Lecture subsequently reprinted in British Journal of Photography, 5 October 1923.]
Exhibition, "Seven Americans," Anderson Galleries (New York) with Charles Demuth, John Marin, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O'Keeffe, Alfred Stieglitz, and Arthur Dove.
To Colorado and New Mexico in summer. Photographs of tree root forms and Mesa Verde cliff dwellings.
Summers at Georgetown Island, Maine near close friend, sculptor Gaston Lachaise. Begins series of extreme close-ups: plants, driftwood, rocks.
Exhibition, "Forty New Photographs by Paul Strand," Intimate Gallery (New York). To Gaspe in summer; first interpretation of a locality, integrating all elements with particular interest in moments of perfect compositional relation.
To New Mexico in summers. Series of landscapes with clouds, adobe architecture, ghost towns, etc.
Exhibits with wife Rebecca, a painter, at An American Place (New York). Returns to New Mexico.
To Mexico. Begins series of bultos, "candid" portraits of Indians. Appointed Chief of Photography and Cinematography, Department of Fine Arts, Secretariat of Education. Exhibition, "Exposicion de la Obra de la Artista Norteamericano. Paul Strand," Sala de Arte de la Secretaria de Educacion (Mexico City), February 1933. Photographs and supervises production of the film, Redes (released in the U.S. as The Wave) for the Mexican government.
To Moscow for 6 weeks to join Group Theatre directors Harold Clurman and Cheryl Crawford. There meets Eisenstein, Dovzhenko, Ekk, and other directors in film and theater. Offered jobs photographing for USSR in Construction and working with Eisenstein on new films, but returns instead to the U.S. Photographs with Ralph Steiner and Leo Hurwitz The Plow That Broke the Plains, produced for the U.S. Resettlement Administration and directed by Pare Lorentz.
To Gaspe in summer; produces new Gaspe series. Marries Virginia Stevens.
Establishes and heads Frontier Films, a non-profit educational motion picture company. Associates include Leo Hurwitz, Lionel Berman, Ralph Steiner, Sidney Meyers, Willard Van Dyke, David Wolf, and others.
With Leo Hurwitz edits film Heart of Spain, first Frontier Films release.
Publishes 20 Photographs of Mexico, a portfolio of hand gravures.
Native Land, released, a Frontier film photographed by Strand and co-directed by Strand and Leo Hurwitz.
Does camera work on several films for U.S. government agencies. As Chairman of the Committee of Photography of the Independent Voters Committee of the Arts and Sciences for Roosevelt, edits with Leo Hurwitz and Robert Riley, a montage of photographs, depicting twelve years of the Roosevelt administration. [Included in the exhibition, "Artists' Tribute to President Roosevelt," piece covered an eighty foot wall in the Vanderbilt Gallery, Fine Arts Building (New York).]
To Vermont in the winters. Returns to still photography after ten years in film work. Produces Vermont series.
Delivers lecture, "Photography and Other Arts," Museum of Modern Art (New York).
Major retrospective exhibition, "Photographs 1915- 1945 by Paul Strand," Museum of Modern Art (New York), Nancy Newhall, curator. Guest, with 250 other American scientists, artists and writers, of President and Mrs. Roosevelt at a White House luncheon and at inaugural ceremonies the following day.
Publishes article, "Alfred Stieglitz 1864-1946," New Masses, 6 August 1946.
Travels through New England with Nancy Newhall, collecting materials for Time in New England.
Publishes article, "Stieglitz, an Appraisal," Popular Photography, 1947.
Moves to Europe.
Native Land wins award at Czech International Film Festival.
Travels to France with assistant Hazel Kingsbury to begin research and photography for La France de Profil.
Marries Hazel Kingsbury. Settles in Oregeval, France.
La France de Profil, text by Claude Roy, published.
Photographs of Italy, some of which are later used in Un Paese.
To the island of South Uist (Outer Hebrides) to make photographs for Tir a' Mhurain. Un Paese, text by Cesare Zavattini, published.
Publishes article, "Italy and France," U.S. Camera Annual, 1955.
Works on a series of portraits of prominent French intellectuals and on close-ups of his Oregeval garden.
Exhibition, "Diogenes with a Camera III," Museum of Modern Art (New York), Edward Steichen, curator.
To Egypt for two and a half months, photography for Living Egypt.
Brief photographic trip to Rumania.
To Morocco to begin work on a series of photographs and to continue research into Arab life. Tir a' Mhurain: Outer Hebrides, text by Basil Davidson, published.
Named to American Society of Magazine Photographers Honor Roll.
To Ghana at the invitation of President Nkrumah, photography for Ghana: An African Portrait.
Returns to Rumania to complete photographs begun in 1960 with intent to publish a book. The Mexican Portfolio (reissue of Photographs of Mexico) published. Receives David Octavius Hill Medal from the Gesellschaft Deutscher Lichtbildner (GDL), Mannheim, West Germany. Named to "Who's Who in America." The Mexican Portfolio selected by the American Institute of Graphic Artists as one of the "Fifty Best Books of 1967/68." Exhibitions, "Gesellschaft Deutscher Lichtbildner. Aussetellung im Manheimer Kungstverein e.V.," Augusta Anlage 58, (Mannheim, West Germany); "Photographs by Paul Strand," Worcester Art Museum (Worcester, Massachusetts); "Paul Strand: 1927- 1954," San Francisco Museum of Art (San Francisco, California); "Paul Strand," Sunset Cultural Center (Carmel, California).
U.S. edition of Tir a' Mhurain: Outer Hebrides published.
Living Egypt, text by James Aldridge, published. Delivers lecture, "The Still Photographer as Filmmaker," Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut). Exhibitions, "Paul Strand," Kreis Museum, Haus der Heimat (Freital, West Germany); "Paul Strand," Studio Callebert (Roseselare, Belgium); [Paul Strand Photographs], Museum of Fine Arts (St. Petersburg, Florida); [Paul Strand], Galerie Olleke (Heerlen, Netherlands).
One-man exhibition organized by Gilbert de Keyser and Yves Auquier for the Administration Generale des Affaires Culturelles Francais of Belgium opens Musee Communal de Verviers (Verviers, Belgium), and later travels to Maison de la Culture (Namur, Belgium), Palais de Beaux Arts (Charleroi, Belgium), Theatre Nationale (Brussels, Belgium), Museum of Fine Arts (Ostend, Belgium), "Meyhuis" (Helmond, Netherlands), and Museum of Vaart, Hilversum, Netherlands).
Exhibition of gravures, Stockholm, Sweden, as guest of the Swedish Photographers Association. Attends showings of Heart of Spain, Redes, and Native Land, as guest of the Swedish Film Archives.
Paul Strand: A Retrospective Monograph, The Years 1915-1968 published. Exhibition, "Paul Strand," Currier Gallery of Art (Manchester, New Hampshire.
Major retrospective exhibition, "Paul Strand: Photographs 1915-1968," opens Philadelpha Museum of Art (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), and later travels to St. Louis Art Museum (St. Louis, Missouri), Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, Massachusetts), Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, California), and the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum (San Francisco, California).
Receives Grand Prix du Festival d'Arles (France) for Paul Strand: A Retrospective Monograph, The Years 1915-1968. Exhibitions, [Paul Strand], Light Gallery (New York); [Paul Strand], Hotchkiss School (Lakeville, Connecticut).
Named Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Honorary Member, American Society of Magazine Photographers; Fellow, Philadelphia Museum of Art. Delivers lecture, "An Evening with Paul Strand," Museum of Modern Art (New York). Exhibitions, "Paul Strand," Salle Etienne Gautier (Arles, France); "Paul Strand: The Mexican Portfolio," Sunset Cultural Center (Carmel, California).
Ghana: An African Portrait, text by Basil Davidson; Portfolio I: On My Doorstep, 1914-1973, and Portfolio II: The Garden, 1957-1967 published. Dies 31 March, Oregeval, France.


40 Linear Feet

Metadata Rights Declarations

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


Activity files, biographical information, correspondence, printed materials, and scrapbooks, of Paul Strand (1890-1976), photographer, filmmaker, and writer. Much of the collection is correspondence relating to Strand's publications, exhibitions, films, friends, and colleagues including Ansel Adams, John Marin, Beaumont and Nancy Newhall, Georgia O'Keeffe, Edward Weston, Alfred Stieglitz, and others.


This collection was designated as Archive Group (AG) 17. It was arranged according to the following outline:

  1. Series 1: Publications, 1921-1976, 7 boxes
  2. Subseries 1: Portfolios, 1940-1976, 4 folders
  3. Subseries 2: Monographs, n.d., 1950-1976, 40 folders
  4. Subseries 3: Miniature Maquettes, n.d., 12 items
  5. Subseries 4: Other Materials, n.d., 1921-1973, 31 folders
  6. Subseries 5: Articles and Related Correspondence, n.d., 1917-1975, 12 folders
  7. Subseries 6: Clippings, n.d., 2 folders
  8. Series 2: Exhibitions, 1936-1977, 2 boxes
  9. Series 3: Activity Files, n.d., 1934-1975, 2 boxes
  10. Subseries 1: Photographic Activities, n.d., 1938-1973, 17 folders
  11. Subseries 2: Political Activities, n.d., 1945-1974, 6 folders
  12. Subseries 3: Travel Activities, n.d., 1960-1972, 8 folders
  13. Subseries 4: Other Activities, n.d., 1934, 1953-1954, 2 folders
  14. Subseries 5: Gifts, Loans, Purchases, 1960-1975, 16 folders
  15. Series 4: Correspondence, n.d., 1913-1975, 18 boxes
  16. Subseries 1: Personal, 1913-1975, 17 boxes
  17. Subseries 2: General, n.d., 21 folders
  18. Series 5: Films, n.d., 2 boxes
  19. Series 6: Other Materials, n.d., 1915-1971, 4 boxes
  20. Series 7: Scrapbooks, 1902-1975, 5 boxes
  21. Series 8: Slides, n.d., 11 boxes

Custodial History

The bulk of the Paul Strand Collection was received in 1976 from the Paul Strand Foundation (now called the Aperture Foundation, Inc. with the Paul Strand Archive as a division). Hazel Kingsbury Strand and Naomi Rosenblum organized the papers prior to their arrival at the Center. Additional materials were received from the Strand Foundation in 1982.

Paul Strand's personal library, cameras, family photographs, his and Hazel Strand's collection of work by other artists, his negatives, and approximately 5,000 of his photographs are housed in the Paul Strand Archive, part of The Aperture Foundation, Inc. Original materials relating primarily to his career in cinematography are in the collections of the Library of Congress.

Processing Information

The finding aid was updated by Caroline Ross and Alexis Peregoy in 2018.

Paul Strand Collection, 1902-1976
Finding aid created by CCP Archives Staff
© 2019
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Finding Aid Based On Dacs (Describing Archives: A Content Standard)
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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