Skip to main content

Eugene Ostroff collection of Talbot photographic materials

 Collection

  • How to
    request
Photographic and manuscript materials produced in the 1960s and 1970s by Eugene Ostroff, curator of photographic history at the National Museum of American History (Smithsonian Institution) in Washington D.C.. Ostroff came to Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire, the home of the Victorian inventory of photograph, William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) with the aim of cataloguing and recording Talbot's documentary and photographic archive. Ostroff's collection comprises his lists of the photographs, together with photographic copies of Talbot's works.

Dates

  • c. 1953-1967

Extent

2.6 Linear metres (16 physical shelfmarks)

Language of Materials

English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark, and page reference if available, e.g. MS. 12307 Photogr. 2].
Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MS. 12307/1, MSS. 12307 Photogr. 1-15

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 12307

Overview

Photographic and manuscript materials produced in the 1960s and 1970s by Eugene Ostroff, curator of photographic history at the National Museum of American History, while recording the photographic work of photography pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877).

Biographical / Historical

Eugene Ostroff, for 34 years the curator of photography and supervisor of the division of photographic history at the National Museum of American History, was credited with opening the museum's Hall of Photography in 1972 and organizing numerous special exhibitions from the 1960s to the 1980s.

In the 1960s Ostroff came to the home of the Victorian inventor of photography on paper, William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) in order to catalogue what remained of Talbot's archive, particularly the photographic works, and in the process applied individual 'LA' numbers (standing for Lacock Abbey) to Talbot's correspondence and photographs.

Unfortunately Ostroff was not able to capture the entire archive in situ at Lacock Abbey, partly because many items, particularly photographs, had been given away by Talbot's grandaughter Matilda Talbot, and partly because the archive had been extensively rearranged by Harold White, who in 1950 had been invited to write Talbot's biography, a task never completed. While working, though, White had separated out material he considered to be of doubtful use for his research, and it is likely that Ostroff never saw this material. Much of what he did see, however, he photographed and numbered. It is these records, principally of Talbot's photographs rather than his documentary archive, which remain in this collection.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by the Smithsonian Institute, 2016
Title
Eugene Ostroff's copies of William Henry Fox Talbot photographs
Status
Completed
Author
Finding aid prepared by Charlotte McKillop-Mash
Date
2018
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Contact:
Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom