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Photographs (Photo Morgue), 1904-1986 and undated


The photo series, consisting of emulsion prints (usually 8 inches x 10 inches glossy gelatin bromide black-and-white), laserphotos, negatives (usually 4 inches x 5 inches flexible-support acetate), transparencies, slides, and undeveloped film, was originally assembled and arranged over decades as photographs were taken, used, and sometimes re-used in the newspaper. Stored originally in steel filing cabinets, the staff of the Baltimore News American and its antecedent newspapers filed the photographs according to intellectual content, rather than as chronological evidence of separate news stories or by photographer name. The three main groupings were geographical, biographical, and subject, each arranged alphabetically. As a result, the photos relating to each subject or personal (or corporate) names were maintained together.

While the original physical arrangement of the photo morgue has not been maintained above the folder level, the intellectual arrangement within each original envelope of related photographs has been maintained. The metadata of the original envelopes has been captured on new acid-free folders and externally in a database (and separate from this finding aid). Available only in the Maryland Room, this database allows name and subject searching of all of the processed photographic prints, regardless of whether they were originally considered geographical, biographical, or subject oriented. Using the database, the metadata of the photographs can be arranged alphabetically to approximate the physical order of the photo morgue at the series level. Please contact the appropriate curator for more information.

The exact number of photographic prints is currently unknown, but it may exceed well over a million images. About 500,000 photographic prints and 100,000 film negatives have been processed. Approximately 500,000 film negatives, as well as the transparencies, slides, and undeveloped film, along with one box of photographic prints from Maryland Living, the News American's Sunday Magazine during the 1960s and 1970s, remain unprocessed.

In 2018 and 2020, the University of Maryland, College Park received two transfers of News American photographic prints, acetate and nitrate negatives, and glass plate negatives from the Special Collections department of the Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery, University of Maryland, Baltimore County. These transfers added 431.25 linear feet to the photographs series. This subset of materials is arranged by format and/or size then alphabetically by subject within their respective sizes and formats. Other than the necessary preservation actions needed to safely move the materials to the University of Maryland, College Park, these materials remain unprocessed and do not appear in the database.


  • 1904-1986 and undated

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open to the public and must be used in the Special Collections reading room. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

A very small number of files in this collection are restricted due to privacy concerns. Restricted files are noted in the folder listing or on subseries inventories.

Researchers interested in accessing the photographic series are urged to contact us prior to visiting, as the materials may require a special search.


1,911.25 Linear Feet

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

This series contains fragile glass plate negatives that require a digital copy be made prior to use. If you would like to access these materials, please contact us prior to your visit.

Existence and Location of Copies

A very small portion of photographs have been digitized and are available in UMD Digital Collections and UMBC Digital Collections.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742