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COLLECTION Identifier: UAV 605

Records of the Office of News and Public Affairs : Photographs


The Harvard University News Office was established in 1919. The first photographer was hired in 1943. These photographs document all aspects of the growth and development of Harvard University's architecture and environs, faculty and staff, students and campus life. Chiefly black-and-white photographic prints and negatives.


  • 1913-1991 (inclusive) 1956-1977 (bulk)
  • Majority of material found within 1956-1977


Physical Description

47 document boxes, 14 half document boxes, 51 card boxes

Conditions Governing Access

Open for research


27 cubic feet (103 boxes)
These photographs document all aspects of the growth and development of Harvard University's architecture and environs, faculty and staff, students and campus life. Chiefly black-and-white photographic prints and negatives.

Longer History of the Office of News and Public Affairs

In 1919, Frederick L. Allen (FLA), recently appointed Secretary to the Corporation, was charged with the establishment of a news office to "get out a regular service of Harvard news to the newspapers." (FLA memorandum, June 1919) The relationship between the University and the press had been difficult, and without a central liaison the flow of information was often handled inconsistently. "Prior to 1919, as far as I can make out, Harvard had no agency which recognized the existence of the public or the press." (William Nichols address to the Associated Harvard Clubs, November 1933)

Although the public and the press were interested in this prominent institution, the concept of publicity was controversial at Harvard. When the newspapers' sphere of influence increased dramatically during World War I, the University acknowledged the change by establishing the News Office. In a 1922 paper on college publicity, Allen wrote, "College publicity work is a comparatively new thing. It has developed within the past generation, almost one might say within the past decade, as a result of the increase in the power and prestige of the newspapers. Its development has been especially marked since the war. The war taught people what publicity could accomplish."

Allen recognized the importance of photographs as News Office publicity, and he purchased pictures from Cambridge photographers to send to newspapers. During the early years he had difficulty obtaining the funding to hire photographers. In a memorandum, probably from Allen to his successor, James Seymour, Allen states, "In general I try to give opportunities to photographers to do anything that seems reasonable, although there is a ridiculous prejudice among many people around here against newspaper photographers. I have no objection to the person who objects to being personally posed, but it ought to be possible to take photographs of general scenes or occassions [sic] in a way that would not bother anybody and would be not only of interest but possibly of some historical value, and I hope you will be able to make some headway in broadening the opportunities for this sort of thing."

The relationship between the University and the press remained unclear in 1932 when, before retiring, News Office Director Robert K. Lamb wrote a letter to president Abbott Lawrence Lowell emphasizing the need for an incumbent with previous newspaper experience. His successor, William I. Nichols, recognized photographs as a means for better communication, and firmly stated: "There is great need to arrange adequate photographic facilities so that all types of information about Harvard may be adequately illustrated." (William Nichols address to the Associated Harvard Clubs, November 1933)

Although the first News Office photographer was not hired until 1943, the role of photography developed quickly after that. By the end of 1946, three photographers had been hired and the News Office installed darkroom facilities. During the 1940s and 1950s, News Office photography flourished and moved beyond publicity to an active documentary role. During the early 1970s, the News Office was placed administratively under the Office of the Vice President for Government, Community and Public Affairs. In 1994-1995, the name of the office was changed from Harvard News Office to Harvard University Office of News and Public Affairs.


  1. Faculty and Staff Portraits 1943-1984
  2. Presidents, 1938-1991
  3. Honorary Degree Recipients, 1945-1973, 1977
  4. Groups, 1913-1980
  5. Visitors, 1956-1979
  6. Harvard College, ca.1950-1970 (bulk), ca.1936-1983 (inclusive)
  7. Summer School, 1960-1968
  8. Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, 1946-1974
  9. Harvard Business School, 1948-1969
  10. School of Dental Medicine, 1948-1965
  11. Graduate School of Design, ca.1950-1972
  12. Harvard Divinity School, 1948-1966
  13. Graduate School of Education, 1956-1974
  14. Harvard Law School, ca.1950-1976
  15. Harvard Medical School, ca.1950-1965
  16. Graduate School of Public Administration [John F. Kennedy School of Government], 1938-1974
  17. School of Public Health, ca.1950-1972
  18. Commencement, 1956-1976
  19. Special Events, 1956-1974
  20. Special Projects, 1956-1973
  21. A Program for Harvard College, 1957-1958
  22. Images for News About Harvard 1965-1969

Obsolete Call Numbers

The following is a list of old call numbers that were simplified during processing. These records now fall under the single call number of UAV 605.
  1. UAV 605.280.1 p Faculty and Staff Portraits
  2. UAV 605.280.1 pN Faculty and Staff Portraits
  3. UAV 605.282.2 pN Summer School negatives boxes 1 and 2 became Box 102 and Box 103
  4. UAV 605.295.12 p Snapshots of Neil Rudenstine

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Received from the Harvard University News Office over a several decades, including unnumbered accessions.
  1. Accession 10518 received 1985 August 13. Portraits of students and photos of athletics, orginally designated as the HT (Home Town) and ATH (Athletics) Files, ca 1958-1970 and photos of Summer School activities, 1960-1970.
  2. Accession 12795 received 1993 December 6. Contact Sheets, 1936-1985
  3. Accession 10695 received 1986 April 1. Portrait of University faculty, staff and visitors, A - Q, ca. 1956-ca. 1972.
  4. Accession 12677 received 1993 May 28. Snapshots of Neil Rudenstine.

Related Materials

The Harvard University Archives holds the extensive photograph archive of the Harvard News Office and the Office of News and Public Affairs (records in classifications beginning UAV 605) as well as an substantial portrait collection (

Separated Materials

Accession 12677 received 1993 May 28. Contained the Snapshots of Neil Rudenstine that are in this collection. However, most of the photographs from accession 12677 are in UAV 605.295.8.

Inventory update

Document last updated 2018 June 1.

Processing Information

Re-processed by Dawn Marsh and Andrea Goldstein, January-September 2002. Minimal re-arrangement included consolidation of series, naming of subseries, re-numbering of boxes, elimination of some call numbers, creation of this finding aid, and rehousing of fragile material.

Office history researched and written by Wendy Marcus Gogel in December 1989. In 2002, Dawn Marsh and Andrea Goldstein contributed minor additions to update the history.
Link to catalog
Harvard University. News Office. Photographs, 1913-1991 (inclusive), 1956-1977 (bulk) : an inventory
Harvard University Archives

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard University Archives Repository

Holding nearly four centuries of materials, the Harvard University Archives is the principal repository for the institutional records of Harvard University and the personal archives of Harvard faculty, as well as collections related to students, alumni, Harvard-affiliates and other associated topics. The collections document the intellectual, cultural, administrative and social life of Harvard and the influence of the University as it emerged across the globe.

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