Newhall, Nancy Wynne

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Biographical / Historical Note

Beaumont Newhall is perhaps the first champion of the study of photography as art, and of its history. He was born in Lynn, Massachusetts in 1908 and graduated from Harvard University in 1932. After an internship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Newhall became the Librarian at the Museum of Modern Art. In 1937, at the request of Director Alfred Barr, Newhall organized the museum's first exhibition of photographs. His History of Photography, published for the exhibition, introduced formal criteria for judging photography as a fine art. Revised five times and translated into several languages, it remains a widely read textbook on the history of photography.

In 1940 Beaumont Newhall became the first Curator of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art. He was drafted in 1942 and sent to North Africa and Italy in a photo-reconnaissance division. In his absence Nancy Newhall, whom he had married in 1936, served as Acting Curator. Beaumont Newhall resumed his Curatorship after the war, but resigned in 1945 over artistic differences with the new director, Edward Steichen.

In 1948, Beaumont Newhall became the first Curator of Photography at the George Eastman House, and then served as its Director from 1958 to 1971, building a significant photography collection. After his retirement, Newhall accepted a position as Visiting Professor of Art at the University of New Mexico, where he helped to establish the first doctoral program in the history of photography at an American university. He died in 1993.

In his long career, Beaumont Newhall authored numerous articles and reviews of books about photography. In addition to History of Photography, he wrote Masters of Photography (with Nancy Newhall, 1958), The daguerreotype in America (1961), Frederick Evans (1964), Latent image: the discovery of photography (1967) and Focus: memoirs of a life in photography (1993). He also published a book of photographs, In plain sight: the photographs of Beaumont Newhall (1983)

Nancy Newhall (Nancy Wynne Parker) was born in Lynn, Massachusetts in 1908. She graduated from Smith College, where she showed talent as a writer and painter, and married Beaumont Newhall in 1936. After serving as Acting Curator of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art (1942-45), she wrote articles about photographers, edited and introduced photography books by Ansel Adams, Paul Strand, Edward Weston, and others, and collaborated with Ansel Adams on several books about the American West, including Yosemite Valley (1959), Death Valley (1954), The Tetons and Yellowstone (1970), and This is the American Earth (1960). With Minor White, she founded the magazine Aperture . She died in 1974, struck by a falling tree while rafting down the Snake River with Beaumont.

From the guide to the Beaumont and Nancy Newhall papers, 1843-1993, 1929-1993, (Getty Research Institute)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn THE BEAUMONT AND NANCY NEWHALL COLLECTION, 1930/1983 University of Arizona Libraries, Center for Creative Photography
referencedIn Charles Sheeler papers, circa 1840s-1966, bulk 1923-1965 Archives of American Art
referencedIn Bacon, Ernst. Papers, 1926-1990 Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
creatorOf Beaumont and Nancy Newhall papers, 1843-1993, 1929-1993 Getty Research Institute
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Adams, Ansel, 1902- person
associatedWith Anschütz, Ottomar, 1846-1907 person
associatedWith Bacon, Ernst, 1898- person
associatedWith Beaumont Newhall person
associatedWith Brady, Matthew B., 1823 (ca.)-1896 person
associatedWith Cartier-Bresson, Henri, 1908- person
associatedWith Coburn, Alvin Langdon, 1882-1966 person
associatedWith Emerson, P. H. (Peter Henry), 1856-1936 person
associatedWith Evans, Frederick H. person
associatedWith Friends of Photography corporateBody
associatedWith George Eastman House corporateBody
associatedWith Gernsheim, Helmut, 1913- person
associatedWith Hagemeyer, Johan, 1884-1962 person
associatedWith Lange, Dorothea person
associatedWith Lunn, Harry Hyatt, 1933- person
associatedWith Moholy-Vagy, László, 1895-1946 person
associatedWith Morgan, Barbara Brooks, 1900- person
associatedWith Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Newhall, Beaumont, 1908- person
associatedWith Porter, Eliot, 1901- person
associatedWith Salzburg Seminar corporateBody
associatedWith Sheeler, Charles person
associatedWith Smith, W. Eugene, 1918- person
associatedWith Southworth & Hawes corporateBody
associatedWith Steichen, Edward, 1979-1973 person
associatedWith Stieglitz, Alfred, 1864-1946 person
associatedWith Strand, Paul, 1890-1976 person
associatedWith Talbot, William Henry Fox, 1800-1877 person
associatedWith University of New Mexico corporateBody
associatedWith Vogel, Hermann Wilhelm, 1834-1898 person
associatedWith Weston, Brett person
associatedWith Weston, Edward, 1850-1936 person
associatedWith White, Minor person
Place Name Admin Code Country


Birth 1908-05-09

Death 1974-07-07





Ark ID: w62s5zfp

SNAC ID: 25442028