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SERIES Identifier: Mss:658 1905-2005 P762 IV

Series I: Ansel Adams correspondence and test photographs, 1949-1978

Scope and Contents

This subseries contains Adams' correspondence to Polaroid along with the test photographs, negatives, transparencies, photographic reproductions, sleeves and envelopes that accompanied his correspondence or that have a precise capture date. The correspondence includes letters, memoranda, postcards and exposure records, with occasional photocopies of outgoing correspondence from the company to him. Not all correspondence items have associated test photographs. Memoranda were addressed primarily to Edwin Land and Polaroid research director Meroë Morse in the 1950s, but by the 1960s Adams began writing other key staff at Polaroid including Inge Reethof, Richard Kriebel and John McCann. Adams typically sent more than one copy of a memorandum if he was addressing multiple individuals so that they could be distributed easily to all concerned. The correspondence also includes photocopies that Polaroid made of his memoranda.

Correspondence and photographic materials are arranged chronologically and are grouped by month for the most part and in a few instances by subject. Adams began numbering his memoranda in 1955. There are gaps within the memoranda sequence, as not all numbers are accounted for. Adams also occasionally misnumbered memoranda. Memoranda and letters were often given titles. Photographic materials are arranged by the letter, memorandum and/or exposure record with which they are associated, or by capture date. Adams often tested different film types and cameras within a given month. Some of these films were still in development, and sometimes Adams referred to them in his correspondence by relative terms such as "new" or "regular" - in these cases the exact film type he was working with is not immediately clear. Photographic materials associated with a particular correspondence item typically represent a cohesive grouping or sequence of images in terms of subject matter, location in which they were taken, film type or Adams' aims for that particular test. Occasionally, an original copy of the correspondence item with which photographic materials are associated is not present in the collection. In most of these instances, a photocopy is available.


  • 1949-1978

Conditions Governing Access

A majority of the materials in this series have been digitized and made available online for research and study. Original Ansel Adams prints are not available for high-resolution download. Please contact for additional information regarding access and reproductions.

Digitized content follows the organization of the physical collection. Related correspondence, memoranda, and photographs are grouped by month and year. Photograph albums were digitized separately. Albums unassociated with correspondence or memoranda have been separated from the month and year of their creation in the intellectual arrangement of the collection.


30 linear feet (59 boxes)

Physical Location



Repository Details

Part of the Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University Repository

Baker Library Special Collections holds unique resources that focus on the evolution of business and industry, as well as the records of the Harvard Business School, documenting the institution's development over the last century. These rich and varied collections support research in a diverse range of fields such as business, economic, social and cultural history as well as the history of science and technology.

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