@Dumbarton Oaks

Collection PH.BZ.001 - Black and White Mounted Photograph Collection

Identity area

Reference code



Black and White Mounted Photograph Collection


  • 1942-2000s (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

949 boxes, containing approximately 75,000 black and white photographic prints

Context area

Name of creator

Dumbarton Oaks (1940-Present)

Administrative history

Robert and Mildred Bliss retired to their Georgetown home, Dumbarton Oaks, in 1933. They began adding to their already extensive collection of artwork and reference books, anticipating the creation of a research institute. In 1940, the Blisses gave their property to Harvard University, creating Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection.

"Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection is an institute in Washington, DC, administered by the Trustees for Harvard University. It supports research and learning internationally in Byzantine, Garden and Landscape, and Pre-Columbian studies through fellowships and internships, meetings, and exhibitions. Located in residential Georgetown, Dumbarton Oaks welcomes researchers at all career stages who come to study its books, objects, images, and documents. It opens its doors to the public to visit its historic Gardens, designed by Beatrix Farrand; its Museum, with world-class collections of art; and its Music Room, for lectures and concerts. The institute disseminates knowledge through its own publications (such as Dumbarton Oaks Papers and symposium volumes) as well as through the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library (published by Harvard University Press). Dumbarton Oaks also makes accessible ever more of its resources freely online." -http://www.doaks.org/about

Among its many other activities, in January of 1963, Dumbarton Oaks and the trustees of Harvard University assumed all fieldwork activities formerly initiated by the Byzantine Institute. The Dumbarton Oaks fieldwork committee directed and sponsored new fieldwork projects in Turkey (Church of St. Polyeuktos), Cyprus (Church of the Panagia Amasgou at Monagri), Syria (Dibsi Faraj), and present-day Macedonia (Bargala).

Archival history

The Photographic Department was established in 1942 as an independent department.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Photos were acquired over the years via deposit or purchase. Consult the curatorial files and accession logs for further information about a specific acquisition.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The collection includes over 75,000 mounted black and white photographic prints of Byzantine art, architecture, and archaeology, its bulk being from the fourth through the fifteenth century, along with corresponding negatives where available. The emphasis is on materials that originated in the Byzantine empire and neighboring cultures: Italy, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Slovenia, Romania, Russia, Armenia, and Georgia, as well as Greece, Syria, Israel, and Egypt. There is also a limited number of Russian, Crusader, and post-Byzantine works.

In addition to photographs deposited by outside scholars or purchased from vendors, the images document the fieldwork of Dumbarton Oaks, the Byzantine Institute, and a number of affiliated scholars, including Margaret Alexander, Richard Anderson, Cyril Mango, Thomas Mathews, Ihor Ševčenko, and Robert Van Nice.

For more information, see related descriptions for each series.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Arranged in sections by medium depicted (Architecture, Epigraphy, Ivory, Manuscripts, Metalwork, Minor Media, Mosaic, Mosaic icon, Mosaic Pavement, Panel painting, Sculpture, Textiles, and Wall painting), and then filed geographically according to country, city, and site.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Access to the collection is unrestricted. It is available for research purposes. Appointment is required for access because researcher space is limited: http://www.doaks.org/icfa-appointment-request-form. For research queries, contact the staff of Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives (icfa@doaks.org).

Conditions governing reproduction

Photographs are for research and study purposes only.

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Preliminary inventories for individual sections by Medium are available - see each series record for this collection.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Additional instantiations may be available in ICFA's Negative Collection or Site Books. For access, consult with ICFA staff.

Related units of description

Notes area

Access points

Name access points

Description control area

Description identifier


Institution identifier


Rules and/or conventions used

Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)



Level of detail



  • English



Rights area

Related right





Start date


End date

Rights holder

Rights note(s)

Preferred Citation: Black and White Mounted Photograph Collection, PH.BZ.001, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, Washington, D.C.



Related right





Start date


End date

Rights holder

Rights note(s)

Photographs are for research and study purposes only.



Copyright status

Under copyright

Copyright status date

Copyright jurisdiction

Copyright note

Digital object metadata



Media type





6.1 MiB


December 14, 2018 7:14 AM

Digital object (Master) rights area

Digital object (Reference) rights area

Digital object (Thumbnail) rights area

Accession area