Rochester, N.Y., January 31, 2017—The George Eastman Museum and the University of Rochester have announced that two collections of George Eastman’s papers have been reunited at the Eastman Museum. The university’s Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation (RBSCP) has recently transferred a group of letters and photographs that it has housed since 1976 to the museum’s George Eastman Legacy Collection, established in 1989.
“When the museum originally gave the materials to the University of Rochester, it did not have a Legacy Collection; it was a museum of photography and cinema only,” said Kathy Connor, Curator, George Eastman Legacy Collection, George Eastman Museum. “The university had the staff and capacity to make this collection accessible to the public, which is what they did when they processed the collection, created a guide, and subsequently published the online finding aid.”
In 1976, the university received its portion of the George Eastman Papers at the direction of Robert J. Doherty, the museum’s director at the time. Items included approximately 4,000 photographs and 700 family letters, including greetings from well-wishers on Eastman’s 75th (1929) and 77th (1931) birthdays, and thank you letters from friends to whom he had sent copies of his book Chronicles of an African Trip (1927).
“The University of Rochester River Campus Libraries is pleased to collaborate to support research and preserve the legacy of one of Rochester’s most well-known citizens, George Eastman,” says Mary Ann Mavrinac, Vice Provost and the Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean for River Campus Libraries at the University of Rochester.
For forty years, researchers from around the world have accessed the papers in the university’s Rush Rhees Library—among them, Elizabeth Brayer, who used the materials extensively in researching her landmark biography of George Eastman. In 2011, RBSCP made the 4,252 photographs in the George Eastman Papers collection freely available online.
The university will continue to provide digital access to the materials it has stewarded, and will add digital versions of the papers that have been transferred to the Eastman Museum.
“Today’s researchers expect to be able to access collections at any time, from anywhere,” said Jessica Lacher-Feldman, Assistant Dean for Special Collections and Preservation, and Joseph N. Lambert and Harold B. Schleifer Director, Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation. “We will meet those expectations, and preserve the accuracy of the work of numerous scholars whose research cites the manuscripts when they were held at the University of Rochester.”
Researchers visiting the Eastman Museum will find a rich collection of more than 50,000 items of personal and business correspondence received by George Eastman from 1879 until his death in 1932, along with bound volumes of correspondence sent by him. The business correspondence describes the development of the products and processes of Eastman Kodak Company and provides insight into the photographic and motion picture industries in the United States.
The connection between the University of Rochester and the George Eastman Museum dates to before the museum was founded. In 1932, George Eastman bequeathed his home to the University of Rochester to serve as the residence of its president. In 1946, a group of university trustees and Kodak executives planned the transformation of the mansion into a living memorial to George Eastman and an educational institution dedicated to the preservation and study of the history of photography. Two years later, the university donated the mansion and surrounding property to the new museum. The two institutions have worked together on a broad range of projects and programs ever since, including joint graduate programs in film preservation and in photographic preservation and collections management.
“Bringing together these two collections of George Eastman’s papers will provide a more comprehensive research opportunity for scholars and other museum visitors,” said Bruce Barnes, Ron and Donna Fielding Director, George Eastman Museum. “We are grateful to have such a strong relationship with the University of Rochester, and look forward to many collaborative projects in our future.”
The George Eastman Papers and Photographs formerly held by the university will be available at digitalcollections.lib.rochester.edu/ur/ge. All original documents in the George Eastman Papers can now be accessed in the George Eastman Study Center at the museum. Appointments to see the materials can be made by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the George Eastman Legacy Collection
Comprising artifacts and records relating to the life and career of George Eastman, the collection of more than 100,000 objects includes his restored historic mansion; its furnishings, decorative arts, and related artifacts; substantial holdings of his personal and business correspondence, private library, photographs, negatives, films, and related personal items; and Eastman Kodak Company advertising and publications from 1880 to 1980. The museum has digitized all of George Eastman’s outgoing correspondence from 1879 to 1932, and has more than 9,500 nitrate negatives and 3,642 lantern slides accessible to researchers. For more information about the collection, including online access, visit eastman.org/george-eastman-legacy.
About the George Eastman Museum
Founded in 1947, the George Eastman Museum is the world’s oldest photography museum and one of the largest film archives in the United States, located on the historic Rochester estate of entrepreneur and philanthropist George Eastman, the pioneer of popular photography. Its holdings comprise more than 400,000 photographs, 28,000 motion picture films, the world’s preeminent collection of photographic and cinematographic technology, one of the leading libraries of books related to photography and cinema, and extensive holdings of documents and other objects related to George Eastman. As a research and teaching institution, the Eastman Museum has an active publishing program and, through its two joint master’s degree programs with the University of Rochester, makes critical contributions to the fields of film preservation and of photographic preservation and collection management. For more information, visit eastman.org.
About the River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester
With extensive print and digital resources, and world-renowned collections of rare and unique materials, the River Campus Libraries forms the intellectual foundation of learning and research at the University of Rochester. The iconic Rush Rhees Library, located at the heart of the University of Rochester campus, is home to the Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, & Preservation; Art and Music Library; the Digital Scholarship Lab; the Rossell Hope Robbins Library for medieval studies; and the University Archives. Other libraries include Carlson Science and Engineering Library, and the Physics-Optics-Astronomy Library. The River Campus Libraries are committed to providing expert research assistance, increasing access to digital and physical resources, and developing technology-enriched spaces.
About the University of Rochester
The University of Rochester is a doctoral-level private research university. With an undergraduate enrollment of about 6,000 undergraduate students and 3,400 graduate students, the University of Rochester is one of the country's top-tier research universities. Through its unique cluster-based curriculum, Rochester gives undergraduates exceptional opportunities for interdisciplinary study and close collaboration with faculty. It is home to the internationally recognized Eastman School of Music, as well as graduate programs in business, education, and medicine. Founded in 1850 under the motto Meliora ("Ever Better"), Rochester’s mission is “Learn, discover, heal, create—and make the world ever better.”
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