Processing the Archive

Minor White, William LaRue, Point Lobos, California, 1960

The Minor White Archive entered the collection of the Princeton University Art Museum in 1976, under the guidance of professor and curator Peter C. Bunnell, a former student of White's. In the 1980s, the Museum received two National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grants to organize the materials received in the bequest, in preparation for the major traveling retrospective exhibition and accompanying catalogue Minor White: The Eye That Shapes (1989). Between 2012 and 2014 over 5,500 artist proof cards and 700 contact sheets were digitized and indexed. These materials provided crucial information for the accurate identification of prints within the core collection and are the foundation of a titling style guide developed with guidance from Peter C. Bunnell and curator Katherine Bussard. More recently, basic inventory records were created for the core collection of over 5,000 finished prints.  

With the generous support of a 2014 Museums for America Collections Stewardship grant, awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the Museum has captured high-resolution images and conducted extensive cataloguing for more than 6,000 photographs from the Archive. This website was also funded by IMLS and presents the results of two years of photography and cataloguing.

Minor White, Drid Williams, Capitol Reef, Utah, 1962In 2016, the Museum launched the Minor White Project, a sweeping effort to ensure that White’s extraordinary gift to Princeton and to the scholarly community at large continues to inspire and teach. The Minor White Project Committee convened in June 2016 and agreed that ongoing work will prioritize the digitization of White’s negatives, further illuminating the creative process of this esteemed photographer and teacher. In the coming years, additional photographic and archival material from the Archive will continue to be added to the site, ultimately providing an exhaustive record of the life and work of Minor White.