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[Sen. Claude A. Swanson and Ray Baker standing on sidewalk and talking]Photographic Negatives by Harris & Ewing, Inc.

Prints and Photographs Division

Collection digitized? Partially. A substantial portion of the glass negatives are available through the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog.

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The Harris & Ewing, Inc. Collection of photographic negatives includes glass and film negatives taken by Harris & Ewing, Inc., which provide excellent coverage of Washington people, events, and architecture, during the period 1905-1945. Harris & Ewing, Inc., gave its collection of negatives to the Library in 1955. The Library retained about 50,000 news photographs and 20,000 studio portraits of notable people. Approximately 28,000 negatives have been processed and are available for printing. (About 42,000 negatives still need to be indexed.)


A substantial portion of the glass negatives have been digitized and are available for searching in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog.

For images not digitized, there are no corresponding prints or copies of any sort to aid patrons in their selection of negatives. Images must, therefore, be ordered "sight unseen" on the basis of descriptions in the indexes. In addition, some deterioration of the negatives --such as broken glass negatives and flaking emulsion -- has been observed. As negatives are pulled for Duplication Services requests, they will be reviewed by staff. Patrons are, thus, forewarned that some negatives may be deemed too fragile and "unprintable" by the Duplication Services or by P&P's preservation staff.

Finding images in the negative collection is a two-step process:

Step 1: Consult indexes to find images and their negative numbers. These are located in notebooks with the Division's Finding Aids and include:

  • A) Portrait & Subject Index, wherein negatives are listed by biographical name and subject
  • B) News Index, wherein negatives are listed by event and biographical name (some building names also appear here) . Please note that this index is not complete; there is a large gap between the entries for "Slave Reunion" and "Witherspoon." Negatives for subjects in this gap are not available.
  • C) Franklin Delano Roosevelt Index, wherein negatives are listed by date.

Note: Patrons are advised to check both the Portrait & Subject Index and the News Index for names and events. Some images are cited in both indexes, while others are cited in only one.

Step 2: Consult the Shelflist notebook to determine which of the desired negatives are actually available at the Library for printing. Not all the negatives cited in the indexes will be found in the Shelflist, and only negatives found in the Shelflist can be pulled and printed. If the negative is not listed in the Shelflist, it might be held by Stock Montage, as noted in "Related Collections Outside of the Prints & Photographs Division," below.


Photographic prints made from negatives listed in the Shelflist may be ordered through the Library of Congress Duplication Services, Washington, D.C. 20540-5230. Order forms, price, and order instructions will be provided on request. Cite the negative number of the desired image when placing an order. The collection is a mix of glass and film negatives, which affects the pricing of prints.

If the negative number begins... It is ...
H21 4x5" glass
H212 4x5" film
H24 8x10" film
H25 8x10" glass
H261 5x7" glass
H27 5x7" glass


There are no known restrictions on the use of Harris & Ewing images. Restrictions on the negatives, placed by the firm of Harris & Ewing, Inc., through its Instrument of Gift with the Library, have expired, and the copyrights which were placed on some of the photographic prints (see below) have expired. Privacy and publicity rights may, however, apply. When images are reproduced in a publication, the Library requests that the reproduction number be published with the credit, as in the following example: "Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-H261-4562."


Related Collections in the Prints & Photographs Division

Over the years, the Library has acquired Harris & Ewing photographs from various sources. Many of these have been cataloged in groups, or "LOTs," and brief descriptions are provided below. Fuller descriptions are provided in Washingtoniana: Photographs: Collections in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress (Washington, D. C.: Library of Congress, 1989), which is available at the reference counter. Photographic prints in the LOTs have not been matched to negatives in the negative collection described above. Patrons wishing to obtain copies of images in the LOTs must, therefore, order copy negatives from which prints may be made.

  • LOT 2395: Studio portraits of twenty-four members of Congress (24 items).
  • LOT 2482: Portraits of Victor S. Clark, his family, and his associates (17 items).
  • LOT 4316: Formal portraits and news photographs of President Warren G. Harding, members of his cabinet, their wives, and other public figures (37 items).
  • LOT 7623: U.S. Supreme Court Building, Washington, D.C. (57 items).
  • LOT 9709: U.S. Capitol and events therein (25 items).
  • LOT 10304: Residence of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (14 items).
  • LOT 12504: Library of Congress Jefferson and Adams Buildings (8 items).
  • LOT 12505: Portraits of men and women, and view of the French Embassy (25 items).
  • LOT 12506: Scenes and events in Washington, D.C. (5 items).
In addition to the prints in LOTs, miscellaneous prints may be found in the Division's various "open files," such as the Biographical File and Specific Subjects File.

Related Collections Outside of the Prints & Photographs Division

Negatives made after 1946, as well as a large collection of prints from the entire life of the firm, are held by:

Stock Montage
10 North Halsted, Suite 200
Chicago, IL 60661
(312) 733-3239

Prepared by: Mary Ison, Head, Reference Section, 8/22/96. Last revised: January 2003.

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  March 16, 2012
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