Scope and arrangement
The Camera Club of New York Records (1889-1983, 17. 3 linear ft.) reflect the Club's organizational operations from the late nineteenth century to the late twentieth century, through administrative records, correspondence, ephemera, printed material, photographs, artifacts and related items. Dominant in the collection are the administrative records, particularly the minutes of the Board of Trustees and Members (1925-1982). The Minutes highlight issues of importance to the Board of Trustees and the members; however, they do not encompass the formative years of the Camera Club of New York or the original parent organizations, the Society of Amateur Photographers and the New York Camera Club. It is possible that the Camera Club did not begin to record meetings systematically until 1925. The earliest official period of the organization is represented by lists of officers and members for the years 1892, 1893 and 1900. The official minutes of the Board of Trustees and Members Meetings are typed transcripts. The minutes recorded topics of importance such as reports of committees and members, attendance figures, treasurer's reports and other timely topics (i. e. color photography). Besides the regularly scheduled meetings held several times a year, special meetings were also held. These meetings were of critical importance, covering such issues as the amending the organization's constitution. The Minutes also include incomplete sets of the minutes of the Membership Committee and the Print Committee. Included in the records are references to the Camera Club London Branch. This was a separate organization not affiliated with the Camera Club. The remainder of this section includes copies of the constitution and by-laws in amended versions.
Following the administrative records is correspondence relating to a variety of organization-related topics. The General Correspondence (1950-1985) includes letters from members on miscellaneous subjects. Other correspondence in this section pertains to the sale of the Club's library (1955-1977); and the relationship between the Camera Club and New York University (1964-1968). Under an agreement between the Camera Club and New York University, the Camera Club offered expertise to the University students on photography. New York University decided to sever this agreement in 1968, citing a desire to teach its own courses. The remainder of the correspondence briefly mentions burglaries and fires, foundation funds, grants, pledges and periodical subscriptions of the Camera Club. Also represented in this section is a Round Table Discussion (typed transcript) held by the Camera Club on April 12, 1956. The presiding chairman, William Clark, opened the discussion by asking, "What are the qualities of a good picture? " There followed an exchange between a group of men and women on this question and the related topic of paintings. There is no written indication as to the length of the meeting or who recorded the discussion.
The Ephemera (1890-1984) and the Albums (1889-1940) complement each other. While the Ephemera is a mixture of loose material including admission tickets, notices for exhibits, brochures for exhibits and related material, the Albums offer a more complete picture of events held by the Camera Club. The Albums document the New York Camera Club between the years 1889-1897, following its split from the Society of Amateur Photographers and its reorganization after the groups rejoined in 1897 to form the Camera Club of New York. Material that may have been generated by The Society of Amateur Photographers is not included in the albums. The Albums offer excellent examples of typeface, style and paper used by the Camera Club. Of particular interest is a luxurious brochure produced for Alfred Stieglitz's exhibition (May 1-15, 1899). There are also samples of notices produced for magic lantern slide shows and a notice for the 1890 exhibition "Modern Mechanical Photographic Processes. ".
The Printed Material consists of published material by and about the Camera Club. This section includes Articles, Newsletter, and Camera Club Notes. The Articles, 1899-1982 and the Scrapbooks, 1920-1950 (the latter not part of the printed material section), mirror each other, in a manner similar to the ephemera and albums. The printed material consists of articles about the Camera Club, its members and photography. The Scrapbooks of articles and scattered letters offer more comprehensive information about the development of photography, exhibits and photographers. Highlights of the printed material are the pamphlet Glycerine Process for Platinum May 14, 1900, autographed by Alfred Stieglitz and a copy of a catalog of the Society of Amateur Photographers (1895). Camera Club Notes is the official organ of the Camera Club of New York. A monthly publication (published sporadically) it serves to keep members informed about events relating to the field of photography as well as personal events (i. e. weddings). The collection does not contain a complete set of Camera Club Notes; missing are the years from 1897 to 1943, 1954 to 1970 and from 1973 to the present. Another publication of the Camera Club is the Newsletter; dates represented are 1983 to 1984. The Camera Club Records also contain blueprints, contracts, financial papers including general accounts, incomplete income taxes and miscellaneous papers.
Similar to many organizations, the Camera Club recognizes the merits of individuals who have attained significant achievements. The Camera Club has also been recognized for its contributions in the field of photography. Plaques are representative of this recognition. The records contain several plaques, including one referencing a salon dedicated to the memory of Ella W. Appele; an award of excellence given to the Camera Club in 1975; and service awards recognizing its members and contributors.
While the artifacts highlight the work of the men and women who excelled within the Camera Club, the photographs offer visual evidence of its membership. The photographs and photograph albums (1940-1950) afford a glimpse into the Camera Club's past, depicting members attending meetings and parties, and engaged in photography. There are also some interior and exterior views of the building which housed the Club. Many of the photographs are not identified; all are in black and white (see also: Board of Trustees and Members Minutes 1946-1947 [1 volume] for additional pictures).
The remainder of the collection contains the names of many of the Club's members and visitors through its membership roster (1950-1985); list of members who resigned; and guest registers.
The Camera Club of New York records are arranged in ten series:
- 1890-19821.10 linear feet
- 1950-1985.8 linear feet
The General Correspondence is arranged in two sections. The first section, arranged chronologically, includes letters from members. The second section is arranged by subject.
- 1890-1984.2 linear feet
Contains announcements for exhibits, tickets for events, notices for auctions of camera equipment, invitations for openings and press releases (see also: Series VIII Albums).
- 4.7 linear feet
The artifacts are plaques recognizing significant achievements by the Camera Club and its members, including a plaque honoring significant donors to the Camera Club.
- 1940-19501 linear foot
The photographs and photograph albums are chiefly pictures taken of Camera Club members by other members in a variety of settings.
- .4 linear feet
- 1889-19403.5 linear feet
Albums contain ephemeral material from exhibits such as catalogs, tickets and brochures. (see also: Series III Ephemera).
The additions, 1960-1998, include minutes, correspondence, later copies of Camera Club Notes, and a few copies of The Positive; photographs of Camera Club events, and sound recordings. Sound recordings are unavailable until preservation copies have been made.