The Bixby collection consists of approximately 1,000 items, including interfiled prints and negatives. The combined prints and negatives fill four “shoeboxes”. While many prints were included, the bulk of the collection was initially formed by negatives. The photographs document life at Northwestern during the period ca. 1939-1942. Prominent among them are images of courtship, fraternity and sorority rituals, and formal dances. Rounding out the collection are photographs of student residences, athletic events, theatrical performances, members of the faculty and staff, and notable visitors to campus (Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, etc.).
Bixby was an accomplished photographer. Items within the Bixby collection at the University Archives are typically of very high quality in terms of composition and physical interest. Prints selected from the collection have been used as key illustrations in two studies in American cultural history: Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz, Campus Life: Undergraduate Cultures From the End of the Eighteenth Century to the Present (New York: A.A. Knopf, 1987) and Beth L. Baily, From Front porch to Back Seat: Courtship in Twentieth Century America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, c1988).
Contact prints made from the collection's negatives are included in the print portion of the collection. The photographic prints are black and white and the standard size of both prints and negatives is 4″× 5″. The prints and negatives are arranged alphabetically by subject title (Homecoming, Sigma Alpha Epsilon rush, Basketball, Dance: Navy Ball, etc.); Index cards with the subject titles divide the negatives, while each print is labeled individually on the back.
Negatives are enveloped individually.