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Todd Webb papers

 Collection
Identifier: AG 2

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents

The Todd Webb papers document the career of photographer Todd Webb and, to some extent, the personal lives of Webb and his wife Lucille (Minqueau) Webb. Webb, who used documentary photography to convey a sense of intimacy and curiosity in the relationship between history, place, and people, traveled extensively during his lifetime photographing everyday life in European and American cities including Paris, London, and New York. His travels are documented in the collection mainly through his negatives and prints which, when looked at as a whole, show the extent of his travels in the 1970s and early 1980s. Webb also photographed extensively in Maine, where he and Lucille lived, and the collection contains numerous examples of this work as well. Webb was friends with a number of influential photographers and artists including Ansel Adams, Harry Callahan and Georgia O’Keeffe and these friendships are documented in his correspondence. The collection contains biographical documents, a wide variety of correspondence, financial and legal records, activity files, photographs, audiovisual materials and artifacts.

The Biographical, circa 1880-2004, series is divided into four subseries: Todd Webb, Lucille Webb, Webb Family, and Photographic Materials. The Todd Webb subseries includes materials related to Webb’s time in the military including letters from his brother and other individuals, his certificate of honorable discharge, and veteran’s appreciation certificates. Of particular note are photographs made by Webb of from his time in New Guinea and the Philippines including an engineer’s field transit journal used by Webb as a photograph album. Also in the military service materials is a small spiral notebook containing hand written notes on translating English to Tagalog. Webb’s original birth certificate, as well as chronologies and travel documents consisting of passports and permit documents are also in this subseries

Lucille Webb’s subseries includes her passports and vaccination records. Highlights from the Webb family series include documents of family history by Clayton Webb, Webb’s grandfather, and stories written by Webb himself about his boyhood. The Photographic Materials subseries contains photographs of Todd Webb, Lucille Webb, and Webb family and friends. A number of the images are unidentified.

The Correspondence, 1940-2007, series constitutes the bulk of the Webb collection. It is divided into six subseries: Chronological, 1946-2007; Alphabetical; Political, 1966-2000; Selected, 1940-2000; Todd Webb and Lucille Webb, 1955-1998; and Greeting Cards. The Chronological, Alphabetical, and Selected subseries make up the bulk of the Correspondence series and, when looked at together, provide insight into a number of important friendships as well as Webb’s work with galleries and museums. Highlights of these three subseries include letters between Webb and Georgia O’Keeffe, a close friend of the Webb family for most of their lives, and correspondence with prominent galleries and museums concerning Webb exhibitions and sales of his photographs. Included in the appendix of this finding is a “Selected Index to Correspondence” which provides proper and institutional name access to the Chronological subseries. When looking for correspondence from a particular individual or institution, users should check the “Selected Index to Correspondence,” the Alphabetical subseries and the Selected subseries.

The Todd Webb and Lucille Webb subseries consists of letters between Todd and Lucille Webb, 1955-1998. A small number of letters documenting the Webb’s support of political candidates are in the subseries, Political, 1966-2000. Included are letters from the Bill Clinton and Al Gore political campaigns, 1992-2000, thanking the Webb’s for their financial support. The Greeting Cards subseries, consisting of holiday cards, postcards, and notes from Webb friends, is unsorted. At the time of processing, archivists attempted to remove all correspondence from the greeting cards and integrate these into the Chronological and Selected subseries.

The Financial/Legal Records, 1993-2007, series includes information on the Webb’s estate, as well as revisions and copies of their wills. Included are several tax returns for the Webbs as well as a notebook and sheets of paper where Lucille Webb kept detailed listings of her everyday expenses. The minimal amount of financial information in the collection provides little insight into financial aspects of Webb’s career either as a photographer or writer.

The Activity Files, 1946-2005 and undated, series is divided into five subseries: Exhibitions, 1945-2005; Gallery Brochures/Fliers/Announcements; Writings, 1955-1998; Clippings, 1947-2000; and Scrapbooks. The Exhibition subseries includes exhibition lists, statements, and announcements for a number of exhibitions featuring Webb’s photographs from throughout his career. Also in this subseries are publicity items including a cardboard standup sign for a “Photographs for Collectors Exhibition and Sale” at the Museum of Modern Art in 1960 and a poster for “Todd Webb, Photographs of New York and Paris, 1945-1960: An Exhibition from the Hallmark Photographic Collection, Hallmark Cards, Inc.” which was exhibited at various venues from January 1986 to November 1987.

The Writings, 1955-1998, subseries consists of materials related to several of Webb’s books, some of his travel journals, and writings by others about Webb’s photographs. The series is further divided into writings by Webb and writings by others. The writings by Webb materials includes manuscripts, typescripts, early drafts, research, and notes related to several of Webb’s book projects. Materials for “Gold Rush Trail and the Road to Oregon,” include research notes, a book prospectus, itineraries for trips Webb made researching the book, and what appears to be an early, and much longer, draft for Part 4 of the book “Following the Trail Today.” Materials for Gold Strikes and Ghost Towns includes a typescript of the Author’s Note, typed research notes, and handwritten and typed captions for photographs in the book. The work on these two books were part of the Guggenheim fellowships Webb was awarded in 1955 and 1956 to photograph the emigrant trails to Oregon and California. Other writings by Webb include a typed manuscript for a short article, “I Never Could Stand Could Stand on My Hands,” from 1975, and a prospectus and one typed manuscript page with handwritten correction/notes for “Wonderful World of Georgia O’Keeffe” possibly an early title for Webb’s book, Georgia O’Keeffe: The Artist’s Landscape. Of particular note in this subseries is a typed manuscript titled “African Trip,” about Webb’s travels in Africa. In 1958 Webb received a contract to photograph Sub-Saharan Africa elections, which he calls “Operation Registration” in the manuscript. In addition to the manuscript, there are small notebook pages, title “Somalia Take 1” and “Somalia Take 2,” which appear to be caption information for photographs. Also with the Africa materials is a Rhodesia Railways press release. The Writings by others materials consists of a typed essay by Mike Rowell, titled “Signs,” about Webb’s photographs of signs.

The Clippings, 1947-2000, subseries is divided by topic and includes clippings related to Webb’s work, articles and announcements about exhibitions of his photographs and instances where his photographs were published in newspapers and magazines. The bulk of this materials was collected by the Webbs or given to them by friends who followed Webb’s career. There are several folders containing clippings related to Georgia O’Keeffe which includes exhibition announcements and articles about her work. The collection includes both original and photocopies clippings. Some original were photocopied and then discarded by the processing archivist due to deterioration.

The Scrapbook subseries consists of a scrapbook of newspaper clippings focusing on his travels while photographing for his two books, “Gold Strikes and Ghost Town,” and “The Gold Rush and the Road to Oregon.”

The Artifacts series includes two of Webb’s leather wallets the contents of which were kept in tack and include credit cards and other miscellaneous items. One of the wallets appears have been for everyday use, while the other was most likely used when traveling. Also in the artifacts series is a folder titled “Sample Envelopes from Negatives” which contains various sizes of negative envelopes with Webb’s notes and writing on them. There are also written negative descriptions on scratch paper that describes unknown negatives.

The Audio Visual Materials series consists of a single videotape in Chinese and reports on Georgia O’Keeffe’s work in New Mexico.

The Photographic Materials series, which is the second largest series in the collection, is divided into two subseries: Negatives and Contact Sheets, 1940s-1984 and Study Prints and Contact Sheets, 1962, 1945-1948, 1972-1984. Taken as a whole, this series documents Webb’s development as a photographer as well as his travels throughout Europe and America. The Negatives and Contact Sheets subseries is divided by both size of negative and subjects. Where possible, Webb’s own negative numbers have been noted. Negative sizes include 35mm, 2 1/4, 4x5, and 5x7. Sometimes the negative and contact sheets are organized as a pair with the negatives and matching contact sheets housed together. Included are negatives from his work both in Europe and the United States including his series Americana. The Study Prints and Contact Sheets series is organized by year and, when possible, by month except for work done as part of the series Signs. Images in the Study Prints and Contact Sheets series include photographs of Georgia O’Keeffe in her Santa Fe home as well as photographs from Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Quebec, Great Britain, and France. There are a number of prints, dated 1977, from the series Americana. Webb’s negative numbers have been noted, when possible, in this subseries as well.

Dates

  • 1880-2008

Creator

Language of Materials

Material in English English

Conditions Governing Access

To access materials from this collection, please contact CCP-RefDesk@email.arizona.edu

Conditions Governing Access

The negatives in boxes 47 and 48 are currently inaccessible due to renovations in CCP's cold storage facility. Negatives will be accessible once the renovation is complete and the negative boxes have been relocated to the new frozen storage space. The estimated date of availability is August 31, 2022 although not guaranteed. Please be sure to email CCP-RefDesk@email.arizona.edu with any questions or for updates.

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

Todd Webb was born Charles Clayton Webb in Detroit, Michigan on September 15, 1905. After four years at Newmarket High School, in Ontario, he attended the University of Toronto from 1924 until 1925.

In 1939, Todd Webb became interested in photography as a way to illustrate his writing efforts. By 1940 he became so interested in photography that he abandoned writing. Webb attended seminars with Art Siegel and Ansel Adams in 1941. He also went to New York to visit Alfred Stieglitz the same year. At that time Webb was using a 5 x 7 view camera. By 1942, he was proficient enough in photography to enlist in the Navy as a photographer. During the war he was stationed in New Guinea and the Philippines. Operating from a temporary tent darkroom, he documented the work of the Seabees. Several photo albums from this period are in the Webb collection.

After the war ended, Todd Webb found an inexpensive apartment in New York City. He lived frugally on his savings, which enabled him to spend entire days photographing New York City. In 1946 he was asked to show 175 of his New York photographs at the Museum of the City of New York. The same year he received his first professional assignment: Fortune magazine hired him to illustrate a story about Manhattan traffic.

Todd Webb started work with Roy Stryker at Standard Oil in 1947. Webb’s work with Stryker gave him the opportunity to travel extensively in the United States. One of Webb’s assignments with Standard Oil was making stills for Robert Flaherty’s 1948 movie, Louisiana story.

Webb spent four years in Paris, 1949 to 1953, on assignment for Standard Oil, Fortune magazine and the Marshall Plan. There he met Lucille Minqueau. They married in 1949.

In 1955, Webb received a Guggenheim Grant to photograph the early emigrant trails from Missouri to California. On foot, bicycle and a motor scooter, Webb retraced the route of a group of New Yorkers who went to the gold fields in California. He was granted a renewal of the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1956. Two books were published from the project: Gold strikes and ghost towns (1961), and The gold rush trail and the road to Oregon (1963). Negatives from these projects are not included in this collection.

During the years 1957 to 1959 Webb worked on his books, and acted as a consultant and photographer to the United Nations. He spent six months of 1958 documenting economic development in Africa.

In 1961 Webb and Lucille moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. The next year he started working closely with Mitchell Wilder, director of the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, Fort Worth, Texas, on the Texas Architecture Survey, a photographic documentation of the important nineteenth century structures in the state. This project, done in conjunction with the University of Texas School of Architecture, ended in 1966 and resulted in two books of Webb’s photographs: Texas homes of the nineteenth century (1966) and Texas public buildings of the nineteenth century (1974). The project also included an exhibition of Todd Webb’s photographs which traveled throughout the Southwest. The negatives from this project are not included in this collection.

Extent

72 Boxes

54 Linear Feet

Metadata Rights Declarations

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

Abstract

Papers and photographic materials, circa 1880-2008 (mainly 1943-2002), created and collected by photographer Todd Webb (1905-2000) and his wife Lucille Webb (1906-2008) documenting Webb’s career in photography. The collection includes correspondence with prominent photographers, artists, galleries, and curators including Harry Callahan, Ansel Adams, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Grace Mayer as well as correspondence relating to a number of Webb’s photographic projects including the Texas Architecture Survey (1962 - 1967); biographical materials about Webb, his wife, and his family; exhibition related materials; a small amount of manuscript materials and notes related to Webb’s writings including Gold Rush Trail and the Road to Oregon, and Gold Strikes and Ghost Towns; clippings about Webb, Walker Evans, and Georgia O’Keeffe; and photographic materials by Webb including negatives and prints as well as prints done by the Center for Creative Photography.

Arrangement

The Collection is arranged into the following series:

  1. Series 1: Biographical Materials, circa 1880-2004
  2. Subseries 1: Subseries 1: Todd Webb
  3. Subseries 2: Lucille Webb
  4. Subseries 3: Webb Family
  5. Subseries 4: Photographic Materials
  6. Series 2: Correspondence, 1940-2007
  7. Subseries 1: Chronological, 1946-2007
  8. Subseries 2: Alphabetical
  9. Subseries 3: Political, 1966-2000
  10. Subseries 4: Selected, 1940-2000
  11. Subseries 5: Todd Webb and Lucille Webb, 1955-1998
  12. Subseries 6: Greeting Cards
  13. Series 3: Financial and Legal Records, 1993-2007
  14. Series 4: Activity Files, 1946-2005
  15. Subseries 1: Exhibitions, 1945-2005
  16. Subseries 2: Gallery Memorabilia
  17. Subseries 3: Writings, 1955-1998
  18. Subseries 4: Clippings, 1947-2000
  19. Subseries 5: Scrapbooks
  20. Series 5: Artifacts
  21. Series 6: Audiovisual Materials
  22. Series 7: Photographic Materials
  23. Subseries 1: Negatives and Contact Sheets, circa 1940s-1984
  24. Subseries 2: Study Prints and Contact Sheets, 1945, 1962, 1972-1984

Custodial History

George R. Rinhart of Rinhart Galleries, Inc. purchased a collection of papers, photographs, and negatives from Todd Webb in 1976. Rinhart gave most of the correspondence and some of the papers to the Center the same year. He retained original copies of letters from Harry Callahan to Todd Webb and sent photocopies to the Center. These have been incorporated into the general correspondence files in the Webb Archive. In 1985, the Center entered into an agreement with Webb resulting in his donating additional materials for his archive.

Processing Information

Finding aid updated by Leah Rios and David Benjamin, 2014. Finding aid updated by Alexis Peregoy, 2016

Title
Todd Webb papers circa 1880-2008
Author
Finding aid updated by Alexis Peregoy
Date
© 2017
Description rules
Finding Aid Based On Dacs (Describing Archives: A Content Standard)
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Finding aid encoded in English .

Repository Details

Part of the Center for Creative Photography Archives Repository

Contact:
1030 N. Olive RD
Tucson Arizona 85721 United States