The Curator

by Roy Flukinger, curator

The Photography Collection of the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Ccnter of the Universi­ty of Texas. Austin, was estab­lished in 1963 with the purchase of the Gcrnshcim Collection, at that time the largest collection of photo-historical material in in­dividual hands. From that superb beginning the Collection has grown to over a hundred limes its original size. At present it contains four and a half million prints and negatives, a research library of nearly 20.000 volumes, an equipment archive of 2.500 items, and thousands of manu­scripts, artifacts and related study materials.
Presently the collection attracts some 1,500 researchers (and twice as many visitors) a year. We provide research materials for scholars, illustrations to hun­dreds of publications, art objects to a number of major exhibi­tions, and assistance and advice to many institutions, public organizations and individuals. The Collection is. above all clsch a resource center for the foster­ing of ideas and the dissemina­tion of information in all aspects of the human experience in which photography has played a role.
A photographic conservator has been hired and a new con­servation laboratory has been established for the treatment of our holdings. Staff members in the Collection now spend a ma­jor portion of their time with basic preservation and rehousing of the images and other items in ihe archive, as welt as instruc­ting patrons in proper handling techniques. In addition, an auto­mated inventory and cataloging system for the photographs has been designed and implemented.
To broaden our understanding of this medium and add to the permanent artistic holdings of the University, the Collection con­tinues to acquire major works by the past masters and present prac­titioners of the photographic an.
The Photography Collection welcomes and encourages patrons from a variety of backgrounds and academic disciplines. Photography has always been studied in such traditional areas as fine arts and communications, recently, however, it has been very en­couraging for us to witness faculty and students from a number of additional academic divisions - including history, American studies, anthropology, sociology, architecture, eco­nomics and the physical sciences - who are constantly bringing their own perspectives to this field. The influx of such diverse humanistic approaches will con­tinue to provide us with a redefi­nition and clarification of our perceptual and conceptual atti­tudes toward this important medium.