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Library Collections: Photographs

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Photographs—More than 140 photograph collections are stored in the Rare Book Room. Like rare books, these materials are available to the public on site, during library hours. Highlights of the collection include several hundred photographic prints by Vittorio Sella (1859-1943), one of the first to carry heavy cameras and 30 x 40 cm glass plates into remote areas. He accompanied the Duke of Abuzzi's 1909 attempt on K2, as well as earlier expeditions to the Caucasus, the Rwenzori, Africa, and to the St. Elias Mountains, Canada. His photographs of this area were highly praised by Ansel Adams. The AAC collection holds photographs of the Tetons by Adams, as well as by his friend Bradford Washburn. In 2008 a private collector presented the Library with a permanent loan of 175 of Washburn's personal favorites of his own work.

The collection also includes thousands of glass-, acetate-, and polyester-based transparencies, sheet film negatives, prints and stereo photographs, along with lantern slide and modern slide projectors. Slides are especially significant because they were often used in expedition presentations at AAC gatherings as well as at the Explorer's Club and the British Alpine Club. In many instances the notes from these presentations are preserved in personal correspondence in the AAC archives. The photographs of less well-known photographers are also significant in that they document such things as glacial recession and other environmental features, clothing and gear used in a particular period, as well as persons and places related to various adventures.The AAC's first digitization project, started in 2008, has been making climber and historian Harish Kapadia's color slides of the Indian Himalayas, spanning the 1970s to 2003 available online.

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