The Minor White Archive proof cards
Before my internship at the Princeton University Art Museum, I thought that accessing art images was as simple as searching titles in Google. While spending the summer scanning 4,500 Minor White proof cards, however, I learned just how much work goes into making such images and information available to the public.
The Museum is the repository of the Minor White Archive, which comprises an extraordinary amount of the photographer’s material in addition to the print collection, including extensive files of negatives and proof prints for his black-and-white photography. White’s proof cards encompass thousands of images from his entire photographic career (1938–1975), many of which have never been exhibited. My primary task was to scan these proof cards, making them accessible to the public. For each card, I transcribed White’s unique negative number and descriptive notes, including dates, locations, and persons depicted. Some card versos also contain White’s detailed notes and drawings about developing and sequencing. In addition to scanning, I cataloged White’s published titles, dates, and locations in the collections database and created web galleries as a visual reference for the sequences.
The ultimate goal of this project is a stand-alone website dedicated to the Minor White Archive, and the completely scanned proof cards represent significant progress to this end. The website will be an authoritative source for the titles and dates of White’s photographs. All of the scanned proof cards will be available on the website so that users can search the primary source information as well as major published titles. Additionally, the website will include White’s major published sequences, with additional sequences uploaded gradually until the complete set is online. Eventually, the hope is to have subject-term browsing available, adding another access point to the Archive.
This project will aid other museums in cataloging their collections of Minor White prints and will provide researchers with new material for study. The new accessibility of this information will allow for greater understanding and appreciation of Minor White’s career.
Sarah Moore, West Virginia University, Class of 2014