Photographic Archives showcases portraits of children from Fine Print collection

By Niki King

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — University of Louisville Photographic Archives presents “Fine Young Kids,” a new exhibition featuring portraits of children from the archives’ vast Fine Print collection

Harlem, NYC - Copy

Harlem, NYC, by Leonard Freed

Such critically acclaimed photographers as Leonard Freed, Sally Mann, Bruce Davidson, Bill Carner, Arthur Leipzig, Nicholas Nixon, Barbara Crawford and Ralph Eugene Meatyard took the photos from 1940 through 2012. There are 31 photos in color and black and white.

Assistant curator Marcy Werner artfully arranged the portraits in clusters or in juxtaposition, causing the viewer to consider childhood from differing perspectives: How has childhood changed through the years? How does an American childhood differ from those abroad? How do children process adult values? 

“While many of these photographs appear to be straight portraiture, whimsy or documentation, there is additional meaning in the context of place and pose. Most of these children appear quite aware their photos were being taken. How they chose to present themselves provides relatable moments, if one can remember what it was like to be a kid,” Werner said.

The exhibition is for the young and young-at-heart. Families with children are invited to peruse the portraits and also visit the Multicultural Children’s Literature Collection on the third floor. The collection features thousands of multicultural and diversity-related books and materials for children of all ages.

“Fine Young Kids” is in the Photographic Archives and Kain Rare Books Gallery in the lower level of Ekstrom Library, Belknap Campus, through May 25. Click here for gallery hours, directions and other information.

For more information contact Archives and Special Collections Director Carrie Daniels at 502-852-6752 or

Use Your Phone to Study with ARTstor

By Trish Blair.

Back in the days before handheld technology, art history students used to create their own flashcards using a photocopier and glue stick.  Now ARTstor has created a mobile app that does all that work for you!


ARTstor Mobile can be used to study art history images.

ARTstor is a more convenient way to quiz yourself on images as you study for finals.  Their mobile app has been released for the public on Android.  For Apple users, there is no app to download; just go to from your mobile device.  Watch a short video about ARTstor Mobile here.

ARTstor is a digital library of over over 2,000,000 fully searchable images.  Images can be searched by keyword, date range, geography and classification.  Students can also create image groups for varying projects and interests.  Want a folder of all 111 images from Keith Haring?  You can have it.  Need to study Italian cathedrals?  Create a list based upon the date range and location in Italy.

Quiz yourself about artwork using ARTstor Mobile.

The prime feature of the mobile app is Flashcard View.  This allows students to view images without text – until you touch the image, thus revealing the information to double-check your knowledge.  Now students can be sitting on a bus, eating lunch or enjoying a sunny day at the park and still study using their mobile phones.

Registration is required to use ARTstor.  The good news is that UofL students get access to ARTstor thanks to the University Libraries.  Set up an account with a non-mobile device, download the app, and get to searching.  This can be done at any machine on campus or at home with a connection via the proxy server.

African American History in Louisville: Primary Sources

African American History month may be drawing to a close, but so many fascinating resources abound you’ll be engrossed in the subject year round. Where can you start? Here are some suggestions.

    • Documenting African American Life in Louisville: The fine folks in the University Archives have created a research guide to materials on the African American experience in Louisville. Manuscripts include personal papers and materials from churches, government agencies, educational institutions, and community organizations. The guide also includes information about newspapers, University records, interviews, and secondary sources on African American history.
    • University of Louisville Digital Collections: Includes
      • African American women at polls, 1920

        African American women at polls, 1920

        Louisville Leader Collection: The Louisville Leader was an African American newspaper published in Louisville from 1917 to 1950. It covered issues and events . It covered local religious, educational, social, fraternal, and sporting activities, as well as national and international news.

      • African American Oral History Collection: These interviews from the 1970s captured life experiences of African American Louisvillians. The interviewees talk about their parents, their upbringing (often outside Louisville), their experiences in school, their careers, and their achievements. They discuss everyday life as well as the big events in the history they lived. The interviews that are online include audio and transcripts.
      • As well as hundreds of images on African American life in Louisville

New Additions to the Fine Print Collection

The latest exhibit in the Photographic Archives highlights new additions to the fine print collection.

The Photographic Archives works to collect, preserve, and make available for research photographs primarily documenting Louisville and the surrounding region. These locally related photographs uphold the visual history of our city and hold tremendous research value, and as a result they are our most heavily used photographs by visitors to the Archives. But in addition to the expansive collection of local images, the archive also holds a significant collection of fine print photographs.

Steve McCurry - Fishermen at Weligama, South Coast, Sri Lanka, 1995

Steve McCurry – Fishermen at Weligama, South Coast, Sri Lanka, 1995

The definition of a fine print photograph is fluid, though generally fine prints are distinguished from the local historical photographs in our collection in that they were created as art works by photographers who identified as artists, or photographs that have since been recognized as works of art regardless of their original context. Factors including the photographer’s creative vision and evident choices in framing, exposure and presentation often differentiate fine prints from representational images such as documentary and snapshot photographs. Fine print photographs are collected and displayed in museums and galleries around the world, with some being sold at auction for millions of dollars. Held within the Photographic Archives fine print collection are thousands of works — many by masters of the medium such as Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston, Margaret Bourke-White, Ansel Adams, and Berenice Abbott.

August Sander - Three Young Farmers on Their Way to a Dance, 1914

August Sander – Three Young Farmers on Their Way to a Dance, 1914

In addition to being displayed in exhibitions, the fine print collection is regularly accessed for teaching purposes with prints being selected and presented to university Art History and Photography classes. The archive adds regularly to the fine print collection through donations and purchases from local galleries and national photography dealers. When choosing prints to add to the collection, we often consider opportunities for teaching by seeking out prints that will help us represent the entire history of photography and its major movements. We also look to collect a wide range of photographic processes as well works by noteworthy photographers.

Barry Andersen - Connemara Mountains, Peat and Sky, Ireland, 2004

Barry Andersen – Sheep and Standing Stone, Avebury, England, 1995

The exhibit “New Fine Prints: Recent Additions to the Collection” is on display now in the Photographic Archives gallery on the Lower Level of Ekstrom Library until March 6, 2015.

Henry Horenstein - Helen Pontani and Peekaboo Pointe

Henry Horenstein – Helen Pontani and Peekaboo Pointe, 2008

Mid-century Louisville

The University of Louisville Libraries’ Digital Collections has a colorful new addition: the Martin F. Schmidt Photos of Louisville, ca. 1956-1966. These 573 color snapshots document buildings in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, in the 1950s and 1960s, before urban renewal and federal highway construction made major changes to the architectural landscape.

ULPA 1998.09.424

609 West Walnut Street, Louisville, Kentucky. Image Number ULPA 1998.09.424 in Martin F. Schmidt Photos of Louisville 1956-1966, University of Louisville Photographic Archives.

The photographer, Martin F. Schmidt (1918-2010), worked in his family’s Coca-Cola bottling business in Louisville before pursuing a degree in library science and applying his interest in local history to positions in the Louisville Free Public Library’s Kentucky Division and the Filson Club (now Filson Historical Society). He also published Kentucky Illustrated: The First Hundred Years (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1992), a selection of prints he collected documenting Kentucky’s first century. Schmidt was also a major supporter of the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort, where a library is named in his honor.

The albums he donated to the University of Louisville Photographic Archives (now part of Archives & Special Collections) include churches, schools, offices, and industrial buildings from the Phoenix Hill neighborhood to Portland and from the Central Business District out to the Russell and California neighborhoods. The saturated color images show late nineteenth century architecture with neon signage, painted advertisements (similar to those documented in our Ghost Signs of Louisville digital collection), mid-20th century automobiles, and pedestrians. Many of the buildings depicted have since been razed.

ULPA 1998.09.288

Martin Rosenberger Wallpaper Co., Miller Automatic Sales Company, and Royal Wallpapers, Inc., 525-19 West Market Street, Louisville, Kentucky. Image Number ULPA 1998.09.288 in Martin F. Schmidt Photos of Louisville 1956-1966, University of Louisville Photographic Archives.

2014 Stern Bramson Award

For almost 25 years the University of Louisville Photographic Archives has chosen one graduating high school student from the Greater Louisville area to receive the Stern J. Bramson Award for Photographic Excellence. This year we had entries from 12 talented photographers, the most we have seen in a long time.  The caliber of work was high and the decision was difficult.  After much debate we got ourselves together and chose the winner of the $1000 prize.  Unfortunately, we cannot let you know who it is until April 4th, when the participants will be notified themselves.

If you are interested in finding out who is the winning photographer, check the University of Louisville Photographic Archives Facebook page on April 4th. We’ll be announcing the photographer’s name sometime in the afternoon. In the meantime, here is a small selection from just half of the portfolios we received:

Bramson Award entry.

2014 Bramson Award entry.

2014 Bramson Award entry.

2014 Bramson Award entry.

2014 Bramson Award entry.

2014 Bramson Award entry.

2014 Bramson Award entry.

2014 Bramson Award entry.

2014 Bramson Award entry.

2014 Bramson Award entry.

2014 Bramson Award entry.

2014 Bramson Award entry.

2014 Bramson Award entry.

2014 Bramson Award entry.

2014 Bramson Award entry.

2014 Bramson Award entry.

2014 Bramson Award entry.

You can learn about Stern Bramson here and view his work by visiting the Photographic Archives at Ekstrom Library.

Louisville Weather History

We have been through a long winter, and whether you are willing to believe that it is finally over or not, you have to concede that weather plays a large role in our lives. It affects our economic lives, our educational system, and even our emotional experiences. Since one of Archives and Special Collections’ central goals is to document the history and life of the Louisville area, it isn’t surprising that we hold a variety of weather-related materials.

One of our biggest weather-related collections is the National Weather Service, Louisville Station records.

Report of smoke and "noxious stench" in Louisville

Report of smoke and “noxious stench” in Louisville

These logbooks of daily observations chronicle Louisville’s weather (and the goings-on in the Weather Service office) from its earliest days in 1871 through 1983. They provide interesting, if sometimes minute, details that connect with our lives (“what was the weather like on my birthday in 1883?”), but they also tell a broader story about how we have engaged with our environment. For several years, Louisville’s observers were asked to report whether they could see the aurora borealis. However unlikely it seems that they would ever be able to give a positive report, these observations were intended to provide data to aid in our understanding of this phenomenon. There are also frequent reports of “fog” that limited visibility downtown in the 19th century – what we would probably call “smog.”

The logbooks and other collections also tell the stories of more dramatic weather events, including tornadoes and floods. For example, on March 27, 1890, a particularly deadly tornado – part of a larger outbreak in the region — swept through Louisville, causing millions of dollars in damages and killing 76 people. While this was noted in the Weather Service’s logbooks, like many catastrophic events, it was also of interest to people outside the region. This being the case, stereographs were produced showing the damage in 3-D (this was state-of-the-art in the late 19th century).

Tobacco Warehouse after 1890 Tornado

Stereograph of Tobacco Warehouse after 1890 Tornado


The “whirling tiger of the air” was also documented by other photographers. The much more recent – and similarly catastrophic – tornado outbreak of 1974 is not as well documented outside of the Weather Service logbooks, although we do have photographs and newspaper accounts.



In addition to tornadoes, life on the banks of the Ohio brings with it the constant threat of flooding, so it is not surprising that various floods are well-documented in ASC’s holdings. While the scope of the 1937 flood puts it in a different category, our collections reveal that floods were a recurring theme.

A search for “floods” in our Digital Collections pulls up nearly 1000 items, including..

German Catholic church, Jeffersonville, Ind 1883…stereographs from an 1883 flood in Jeffersonville…

Postcard of 1907 Flood

Postcard of 1907 Flood

…a postcard from a 1907 flood…

Fourth Street, 1924 Flood

Fourth Street, 1924 Flood

…Caufield and Shook photographs from 1924…

1933 Flood, Louisville

1933 Flood, Louisville

…Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) photographs from 1933…

Southern Parkway, 2009 Flood

Southern Parkway, 2009 Flood

…and images from the 2009 flash flood.

Given the devastation it caused, it is not surprising that the flood of 1937 is particularly well documented. Newspaper articles, photographs, postcards and maps were produced in the wake of the destruction. Some of this material – including maps of the floodwaters – is available in our Digital Collections. In addition, we have recently accessioned a series of 13 oral history interviews with flood survivors that were recorded in the early 1990s. These interviews tell the stories of people who ranged in age from ten to thirty-nine at the time of flood. Some of them had to flee the rising waters, moving in with family or friends, while others were able to stay and assist in the recovery efforts – or at least welcome friends and family into their homes. They all tell a personal story of life during the flood of 1937.

There is an old adage, “everyone complains about the weather but no one does anything about it.” While we can’t help you do anything to change the weather, we can help you put it in historical context.