The Richard and Ronay Menschel Library
The Richard and Ronay Menschel Library contains a comprehensive collection of the literature of photography and a research-level collection of the literature of motion pictures. It is both an informational resource and a collection of artifacts.
The Eastman House owns both the landmark publications and the many secondary and supporting works that inform the researcher of historical context and provide technical information. It is a corpus of primary material encompassing the entire history of photography, from the optical and chemical advances which preceded the invention of photography to limited edition books by major contemporary artists. It is international in scope and covers all applications of photography in modern culture.
No other library has the breadth and depth of coverage of all aspects in the history, aesthetics, and technology of photography. It is only with a collection such as the Menschel Library’s that scholars can obtain a broad overview of the international development of photography while investigating special problems.
- Acknowledged as the premier collection of primary source materials in the literature of photography
- Excellent holdings on the history of motion pictures including many rare trade journals
- Unequaled holdings of daguerreian literature
- Excels in technical literature, exhibition catalogues, monographs, biographies, and periodicals.
Over 59,000 volumes about photography and film:
Collection of rare books, journals, and pamphlets
This contains many of the landmark works of the history of photography, such as 2 copies of William Fox Talbot’s Pencil of Nature (1844–46), the first major book to be illustrated with photographic prints; Julia Margaret Cameron’s Illustrations to Tennyson’s Idylls of the King (1875); The Daguerreian Journal, the first journal devoted to photography, begun in 1850; Camera Work, produced by Alfred Stieglitz (1903–17); and the Galerie Contemporaine (1876–84), a portrait gallery of the leaders of Parisian culture, reproducing photographs by Carjat, Nadar, and other major portraitists.
Specialties of the collection
These include works illustrated with tipped-in original photographs, technical literature, artists’ monographs, professional trade journals, journals of amateur societies, and the unequalled collection of editions and translations of Daguerre’s original manual.
Books and journals with tipped-in photographs
They cover a wide range of subject matter, from literature to medicine, and include examples of virtually every photographic process applied to paper, including calotypes, salt prints, albumen prints, platinum prints, gelatin silver prints, and cyanotypes. There are even extremely rare examples of books with tipped-in stereo cards and stereo viewers attached to the binding, and a treatise on tintyping that contains actual tintype plates.
Numerous works illustrated by photomechanical processes
These include photogravure, heliogravure, carbon printing, collotype (including artotype and Albertype), photolithography, Woodburytypes, halftones, and most of the variants upon these processes.
Volumes for studying the history of photography
The technical history of photography may be studied from the original manuals, catalogs of apparatus, scientific reports, instructions to the amateur and professional, and a sizable group of historical reference works that includes dictionaries, encyclopedias, lexicons, and histories of the field produced in every stage of its development.
Commercial history may be studied from rare and fragile sales manuals and supply catalogs, as well as advertisements in periodicals. A record of artistic achievements and aesthetic controversies is available in the numerous salon catalogues, publications of camera clubs and societies, almanacs, yearbooks, and other works by critics and photographers.
Library Archive Access
The library is open to the public for research Tuesday through Friday, 10 am to noon and 1 to 5 pm . Admission is free. An appointment is not necessary, although we prefer that you call and make arrangements for more extensive research. Enter the Museum through the public entrance and request admittance to the library at the reception/admissions desk. The receptionist will direct users to deposit coats, briefcases, backpacks, and personal belongings in a locker. The researcher may carry only paper, pen or pencil, portable computers, or other materials essential to research.
The collection of the Richard and Ronay Menschel Library does not circulate, and all materials must be used on site. Special handling guidelines apply to all materials.
Photocopies can be made by researchers from books and periodicals in the main collection. The cost is twenty-five cents per page plus a service charge. Digital photographing items in the library collection is permitted for study purposes. All photographic reproductions for study and publication will be supplied by the Museum's Photographic Services Department for a fee.