Peter C. Bunnell and Modern Photography

The Manuscripts Division is pleased to announce that Peter C. Bunnell, McAlpin Professor of the History of Photography and Modern Art Emeritus, is donating most of his extensive papers to the Princeton University Library. They comprise about 110 archival boxes of materials documenting his long and distinguished career devoted to the study of modern photography. The papers include his correspondence with modern photographers, historians of photography, curators, publishers, and members of the Princeton University community. His correspondents include Ansel Adams and members of his family, Ruth Bernhard (whose papers are already in the Manuscripts Division), Alvin Langdon Coburn, Thomas Joshua Cooper, Beaumont Newhall, Georgia O’Keeffe, Paul Strand, Jerry N. Uelsmann, and others; extensive research files of printed materials and additional correspondence relating to the history of photography and particular exhibitions, much of it organized alphabetically by names of photographers; drafts and corrected typescripts for his many books, exhibition catalogs, journal articles, and other scholarly publications; lectures, lecture notes, and other teaching files; and photography by Bunnell or pertaining to him. He has also donated files for two organizations that he chaired: The Society for Photographic Education (SPE), organized in 1963, when art departments were first offering courses on photography; and the Friends of Photography, founded in 1967 by Ansel Adams and others.

Bunnell was born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and was an undergraduate at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he studied with Minor White. He earned graduate degrees from Ohio University (1961) and Yale University (1965). He served as Curator of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, then in 1972 joined the faculty of Princeton University’s Department of Art and Archaeology. At Princeton, Bunnell became the first McAlpin Professor of the History of Photography and Modern Art. He also served as director of the Princeton University Art Museum (PUAM), 1973-78; and acting director, 1998-2000. For 30 years, Bunnell was Curator of Photography at PUAM, where he was also responsible for acquiring the Minor White Archive and the Clarence H. White Collection. He has had a long association with the journal Aperture, established in 1952 by photographers by Ansel Adams, Melton Ferris, Dorothea Lange, Ernest Louie, Barbara Morgan, Beaumont Newhall, Nancy Newhall, Dody Warren, and Minor White. He also taught at New York University, Dartmouth College, and Yale University, and has lectured widely. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain.

Bunnell is the author of the monograph Minor White: The Eye That Shapes (1989) and he edited Photography at Princeton (1998). Bunnell has published two volumes of his collected essays: Degrees of Guidance: Essays on Twentieth-Century American Photography (1993) and Inside the Photograph: Writings on Twentieth-Century Photography (2006). He edited A Photographic Vision: Pictorial Photography, 1889-1923 (1980) and Edward Weston on Photography (1983); and Aperture Magazine Anthology: The Minor White Years, 1952–1976 (2012). He was the coeditor of two Arno Press reprint series The Literature of Photography and The Sources of Modern Photography.

The Bunnell Papers will be available for research after processing. Please note: The papers donated to the Library are complemented by his recent gift to the Princeton University Art Museum of more than 30 years of his correspondence and other materials relating to its Minor White and Clarence H. White archival collections. See announcement. For more information, contact Don. C. Skemer, Curator of Manuscripts, at

Peter C. Bunnell