The Princeton University Library is pleased to announce that the Douglas Kent Hall Papers, a generous gift from Dawn Hall in 2010, have been arranged and described in a detailed finding aid and are now open and available to researchers. The papers comprise more than 100 boxes of correspondence, manuscripts, notes, research files, and audio and visual materials, documenting approximately fifty years of Douglas Kent Hall’s work as a writer and photographer.
Douglas Kent Hall (1938–2008) was born in Vernal, Utah, a rural community approximately two hundred miles from Salt Lake City. He attended the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, coupling his interests in creative writing and photography for a lifetime of documentary and artistic photography across the world. Hall traveled through Europe in 1968 and settled in New York City in 1971, where he had his first photography exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1974. In 1977, he moved to New Mexico. The American southwest and border region would influence the next thirty years of his work, resulting in at least ten major publications and projects from the 1980s through the 2000s.
The creative bulk of the papers consists of at least 96,000 unique photographic images in the form of black-and-white negatives, contact sheets, color transparencies, and prints spanning Hall’s forty years of work as a photographer. Major subjects include rock and roll stars from the 1960s and early 1970s (including Jimi Hendrix and The Who), the American southwest (including rodeos, mission churches, border residents, and Native dances), poets and artists (including Mark Strand, Allen Ginsberg, and W. S. Merwin), and photographic studies of subcultures including bodybuilding (with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno), prison life, drag racing, dance, and cowboy lifestyles. Locations photographed include the U.S.-Mexico border, the American West, New Mexico, New York City, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, and Russia. The photographs are accompanied by manuscripts, notes, research files, and correspondence related to their production.
Hall also wrote an Academy Award-winning documentary about rodeo (his longtime interest), and published four novels and over fifteen photography books on subjects ranging from body building (with Arnold Schwarzenegger) to the Native American weaving traditions of New Mexico. His novels were often autobiographical, centering around his rural Mormon-influenced childhood, while his photography books explored subcultures he discovered as an adult, such as rock and roll, bodybuilding, and prison life. The papers include drafts of major publications, including his first novel On the Way to the Sky (1972) and Let ‘Er Buck (1973), as well as the interviews and research behind the documentary The Great American Cowboy and extensive unpublished drafts and related materials. Other writings include books, plays, autobiographical short stories, essays, freelance articles and reviews, unpublished poetry, teleplays, and unproduced screenplays from his time as a student up until his death.
The Douglas Kent Hall Papers are a valued addition to Princeton’s extensive holdings of Western Americana, including manuscripts, archives, historical photographs, printed books, maps, and other materials. These include Daniel Gano’s Gold Rush Scrapbook and other overland travel narratives, the Western Americana Photograph Collection, photographs of Native American Indians from the Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories by William Henry Jackson (1843-1942) and others, and the Sheldon Jackson Collection of Indian Photographs.
The Seeley G. Mudd Library, part of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, has 11 boxes of photographs in the Association on American Indian Affairs Records and a series of private papers concerning the crusade to return Blue Lake to Taos Pueblo. For printed books, including those in the Philip Ashton Rollins Collection and J. Monroe Thorington Collection, please contact the Rare Books Division. For maps, please contact John Delaney, Curator of Historic Maps, at firstname.lastname@example.org.