Architectural project photographs are created to showcase a completed building for promotional uses or to document day-by-day construction by architects, firms, builders, or clients. Individual architects and smaller firms usually don’t have the budgets to hire professional photographers, and may act as their own photographer. Important photographers include Frank Lotz Miller, Clarence John Laughlin, and Charles Frank. Most project photographs in TUSC are in its Southeastern Architectural Archive (SEAA). Below are links to SEAA collections with significant project photograph holdings.
Preservation photographs were created to document historic buildings or to photograph historic buildings in an artistic way. Important photographers include Richard Koch, Elizabeth "Betsy" Swanson, C. Milo Williams, and Florence Mars. Most preservation photographs in TUSC are in its Southeastern Architectural Archive (SEAA). Below are links to SEAA collections with significant preservation photograph holdings.
Two photograph collections focusing on architecture in TUSC’s Southeastern Architectural Archive have been digitized and can be accessed in the Tulane University Digital Library:
Bourbon Street, 1944 – 1952. Consisting of photographs made by New Orleans architect and photographer Walter Cook Keenan (1881-1970), this digital collection focuses on Keenan’s work associated with his tenure as the first director of the Vieux Carré Commission. Keenan was concerned with the influx of non-conforming signage, especially neon signs, along Bourbon Street during its heyday of strip clubs of the 1940s and 1950s.
“Cole” Coleman Photographs. This digital collection consists of the work of New Orleans commercial photographer Howard “Cole” Coleman (1883-1969). While Coleman specialized in architectural photography, especially of New Orleans French Quarter and Louisiana plantation houses, his work also includes images of New Orleans region businesses, personalities, and Carnival. Photographs are mostly from the 1950s – 1960s.
TUSC has photographs that include architectural subjects in many of its collections, but the following collections are of special note. The photographs may not necessarily have been created to document buildings, but include buildings. Photographs of jazz funerals, second lines, and Carnival parades often show buildings in the background. Street vistas are especially useful in locating images of elusive shots of specific addresses. The collections of the Southeastern Architectural Archive are not included here, and will be described under Project and Preservation Photographs in this guide.
TUSC has photographs in many of its collections, but the following collections are of special note. The photographs may not necessarily have been created to document buildings, but include buildings. Photographs of jazz funerals, second lines, and Carnival parades often show buildings in the background. Street vistas are especially useful in locating images of elusive shots of specific addresses. The collections of the Southeastern Architectural Archive are not included here, and will be described under Project and Preservation Photographs in this guide.
Ralston Crawford (1906-1978), The Original Big Apple, 1100 block South Rampart Street, New Orleans, 1954. Ralston Crawford Collection of New Orleans Jazz Photographs, Hogan Jazz Archive.
Click on the image to open its digital collection in the Tulane Digital Library.
And check out TUSC’s Curator of the Hogan Jazz Archive, Melissa Weber’s “Collection Connection” video on the Ralston Crawford Collection of Jazz Photography--
Along with preserving the professional records of architects (project drawings, etc), TUSC also preserves the personal papers of architects that often contain personal photographs, including images of family, friends, and social occasions. Within TUSC's Southeastern Architectural Archive (SEAA), collections containing personal photographs include:
Unidentified photographer, Thomas Sully’s first yacht ‘Helen,’ ca. 1893, with unidentified men. Location unidentified. Thomas Sully Office Records, SEAA Collection-008.
Click on the image to open the digital exhibit "Thomas Sully: At Home and at Leisure."
Postcards provide a rich resource for images of specific buildings and street views which may show entire blocks of buildings. While postcards may be included within TUSC’s various collections, the Louisiana Image Collection of the Louisiana Research Collection (LaRC) has a separate series for postcards. Click on the link below to open the postcard section of the collection, and at the far right of this page will be Series 4: Postcards. Click on the box you would like to investigate, which will open the page describing the contents of the box. Postcard images will often show changes to a building’s façade over several years of production.
Here are some useful guides to determining dates of postcards, or at least the era they were produced:
Undivided Back Postcard (pre March 1, 1907)
Front: "Royal Street, New Orleans, LA." Note how the message was intended to be written on the front at the space on the bottom.
|Back: The Rotograph Co., NY City. Printed in Germany. Postmarked August 1906. Note how the card states "This side for the address."
Divided Back Postcard (post March 1, 1907)
Front: "The Hammond Oak." Also shows a farmhouse and barn.
|Back: "Photostint" Card. Detroit Publishing Co. Postmarked July 13, 1909.|
Both postcards are from the Louisiana Image Collection, Series: 4, Postcards. LaRC Collection-1081.
The following institutions also preserve architectural photographs. The listed collections are ones familiar to us, and we encourage you to peruse the institution's finding aids to see if they may have other collections useful to your research.
Here are some helpful links to information about how to go about conducting architectural research and architectural photography terminology: