About the Digital Collection
This digital collection includes finished prints and contact sheets by 20th century American photographer William Gedney made between 1955 and 1989. The quantity and condition of the materials reveal Gedney's intense dedication to his work, and his interest in street photography, portraiture, night photography, creative composition, and the study of human nature. His work took him across the United States several times (with a focus on Chicago, Detroit, South Dakota, Kentucky and California), to India, England, Ireland, Paris and Amsterdam.
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This digital collection comprises selected materials from the following archival collection at David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library:
William Gedney photographs and papers 1887, circa 1920, 1940-1998 and undated, bulk 1955-1989
Collection #RL.10032 | 115.0 Linear Feet; 336 boxes, 1 oversize folder
Collection comprises the entirety of William Gedney's photographic career, beginning with his student years at Pratt Institute in the 1950s to his early death in 1989. The materials reveal Gedney's intense and meticulous dedication to his work, and his interest in street photography, portraiture, night photography, and the study of human nature. His earliest serious project was undertaken in Kentucky, where he stayed with a coal-miner's family for several weeks in 1964 and again in 1972. His work took him across the U.S. several times, with extensive photographic projects in Chicago, Detroit, Pennsylvania, South Dakota - particularly the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation, and southern and northern California. During these trips, as well as in New York City, he also photographed well-known composers. Fascinated by human group dynamics, he photographed parades, hippies and other street people, and crowds. He also traveled to Kolkata (Calcutta) and Varanasi (Benares), India, England, Ireland, Paris, and Amsterdam. The collection offers roughly 76,000 unique images represented by the over 2000 contact sheets, with over 19,000 selected images in the form of work prints and 1466 exhibit-quality large prints. Other formats include slides, a complete set of master negatives, and personal snapshots. The breadth of these materials offers deep insights into Gedney's editorial process and artistic vision. Additional perspectives on his life and work can be found in his many notebooks and journals; artwork; handmade books; correspondence files; financial, legal and medical records; memorabilia; audiocassettes; and teaching materials. Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.