Skip to main content

Bea Nettles collection

Identifier: AG 278

Scope and Contents

This collection is divided into eight sub-series; Correspondence, Biographical Materials, Activity Files, Notebooks, Exhibition Materials, Publications and Printed Materials, Scrapbooks, and Photographic material.

Series 1 regards letters sent to or from Bea to others. At the moment the series is made up of a sample of typed correspondence from Bea to different publishers.

Series 2 revolves around items from Nettles’ life that are not explicitly connected to a project or photographic work. These include photos taken by others with notes on them and a letter Bea wrote to her grandmother as a child.

Series 3 is made up of three sub-series, each dedicated to certain projects or materials in Nettles’ career. The first is about the collaboration and work done by Bea and her mother Grace. These included edits by Grace on Bea’s work and a large amount of poetry created by Grace that was used in certain projects by Bea. The second revolves around materials that went into the creation of Nettles’ several artist books, primarily made up of mock ups. The final one is for other materials that do not fit exactly in the other categories or photographic work. At the moment, the sub-series just contains two letterpress projects created by Nettles in a class at Penland.

Series 4 is dedicated to 4 notebooks Nettles’ had revolving her work in darkrooms from 1978-2006.

Series 5 is comprised of exhibit and book announcements and materials revolving a re-staging of “Photography into Sculpture” in 2011.

Series 6 is dedicated to publications that were either authored by Nettles, have work contributed by Nettles, or are about her or her work. Sub-series 1 are books that were authored by Nettles, including her artist books and a guide to book binding. Sub-series 2 are books and periodicals that contain contributions by Nettles’, but are not solely authored by her. Sub-series 3 is made up of periodicals and other works that include articles about Nettles or her work.

Series 7 is made up of news clipping scrapbooks that Bea created from 1979 to 2022. Each scrapbook is divided by decade and includes a variety of clippings that include reviews, announcements, and stories about her work.

Series 8 is the largest series and is devoted to photographic material used by Nettles’. This series is divided into negatives and prints. The major projects that are represented in this series are Return Trips, Hair Loss, Seasonal Turns, Moon Sisters, and Life Lessons: A Mother’s Journal. As well, there are works that were either not incorporated into her projects or are from unrealized projects. There are also vintage prints of Bea. All of these materials were kept in the original envelopes given by Bea which contain notes on the items and how they were used in her various projects.

Photocopies of inventories by Bea, which also include contextual information for select items, can be found in the public control files for this collection.


  • Majority of material found within 1970s-2010s
  • 1956-2022


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 / Historical

Bea Nettles was born in Gainesville, Florida in 1946 and started her photography career at the University of Florida in her senior year when she took a photography class with Robert W. Fichter. She would later continue her education at the University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign with an MFA in 1970. Since the 1970s her work has focused on a semi-autobiographical style and used frequent images of herself, her sisters, mother, daughter, and other extended family to create her images. She is also known for incorporating mythology and fairy tales through her work. It is also during this time that she started working with books and created artist books. Some of which she used poetry from her mother, Grace Noble Nettles, making it an inter-generational collaboration. Artist books would become a major medium for her and her work as a whole. This is reflected heavily in the Bea Nettles collection.

Nettles has taught photography at several institutions starting at Rochester Institute of Technology, then Tyler School of Art, and the University of Illinois where she is currently Professor Emerita. She has had over fifty one-person exhibitions throughout the United States and though her career. These include LIGHT Gallery, Witkin Gallery, George Eastman House, and many more. Her work, both photographic and book based, is found in many collections in the USA and she just had a major retrospective in 2019-2020 called Bea Nettles: Harvest Memory, with a book published with the same name. She is still an active artist and teacher within photography and book arts.


17 Boxes

11.93 Linear Feet

4.66 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Metadata Rights Declarations

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


This collection covers the life and work of photographer and book artist Bea Nettles (1946-), with a major focus revolving around work done from the 1970s to the present day.

Custodial History

Collection donated to the Center by Bea Nettles in 2019. Subsequent accruals donated by Bea in 2022.

Related Materials

There are several archives that hold collections that contain Bea Nettles' work. There is the "Bea Nettles Papers, 1970-2011" in the University of Ilinois at Urbana-Chmpaign University Archives and the "Bea Nettles artwork" collection at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Grace Nettles also has an archive at the University of Florida which contains work created by Grace and Bea.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Elias Larralde in 2023.

Nettles, Bea collection
Finding aid created by Elias Larralde
Description rules
Finding Aid Based On Dacs (Describing Archives: A Content Standard)
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Center for Creative Photography Archives Repository

1030 N. Olive RD
Tucson Arizona 85721 United States