American National Red Cross Collection
Prints and Photographs
Collection digitized? A large portion of the collection is digitized. [View the images in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog]
Overview of the Collection
The American National Red Cross Collection consists of approximately fifty thousand photographs and their negatives, acquired from the American National Red Cross (A.N.R.C.- also known as the American Red Cross, or A.R.C., which later became its official name). The photos date from the beginning of the twentieth century to 1933, offering pictorial documentation of human endurance in war and in times of national disaster and a visual record of the accomplishments of the American Red Cross in giving relief to peoples all over the world.
Norman H. Davis, the late President of the
American Red Cross, believed that this collection belonged to the American people.
With this thought he made arrangements for
its transfer to the Library of Congress, where
it could be properly housed, exhibited, and
made available to the public.
The collection arrived in 1944 and 1952.
At least 32 other photographers' work is present in the collection. (See the American National Red Cross Collection: Rights and Restrictions Information for a list of their names.)
Particularly well-represented in the collection are scenes and events in France, England, Italy, Russia, Albania, the Balkans, and Greece.
relief to the people of these countries.
Also represented in the collection are Red
The collection includes many
In addition to the original photographs, the photographs include copies of documents and other individuals' and organizations' photographs collected by the organization related to its relief work.
Access and Description
Digital scans of more than of 18,000 5 x 7 inch glass negatives are available online. The descriptions that accompany the images draw primarily on original captions accompanying the images, and the titles for the photos are generally drawn from these sources. To search for topics or names, focusing on A.R.C. negatives, include "anrc" with search terms. Example: Brazil anrc.
Also online are selected photographic prints scanned in the course of fulfilling duplication orders for research, publication, and exhibition.
The overlap among the negatives and photographic prints in the collection is still being explored. Original photographic prints from the collection are represented in both processed and unprocessed collections:
Selected photographic prints have been grouped by subject matter into LOTs and can be requested for viewing through routine service in the Prints and Photographs Reading Room. [view descriptions of LOTs]
The remainder of the photographic prints are unprocessed and stored off-site. Requests to view them can be submitted through Access to Unprocessed Materials procedures, using an online form. It is important, when requesting items among these thousands of photographic prints, to state a particular subject or geographic focus in order to narrow down the request.
Access to remaining, unprocessed negatives from the collection is very limited, as is the documentation about them. Inquiries should be submitted through Access to Unprocessed Materials procedures.
There are no known restrictions on photographs taken by staff of the American National Red Cross. The rights status for photographs collected from other sources, particularly those created outside the United States, is not known. For more information, see American National Red Cross Collection: Rights and Restrictions Information.
The division holds photographic prints documenting Red Cross activities taken by photojournalists, government and commercial photographers, including Toni Frissell and the Office of War Information. [view descriptions of groups (LOTs)] [view negatives]
Visual materials transferred from the Clara Barton papers may document some aspects of the organization's history [view descriptions]. The papers are available in the Library of Congress Manuscript Division [view description]. The Manuscript Division also has a microfilm of textual materials from the Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College [view description].
Milhollen, Hirst D. "The American Red Cross Collection of Photographs and Negatives" in A Century of Photographs, 1846-1946. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1980: 130-141 (reprinted from the Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress, Feb. 1945). [View this article from A Century of Photographs, available online via Hathitrust.org]
World War I in Pictures: An Overview of Prints and Photographs Division Collections
Compiled by: P&P staff, partially excerpted from Milhollen, Hirst D. "The American Red Cross Collection of Photographs and Negatives" in A Century of Photographs, 1846-1946. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1980: 130-141 Created: December 2016.