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James L. Bixby Photographic Collection

 Collection
Identifier: 75/7
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.

Dates

  • 1939-1942

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

None.

Extent

4.00 Boxes

Abstract

James L. Bixby was a member of Northwestern's class of 1943, though he did not complete the requirements for a degree. He was a photographer for the Purple Parrot, a highly regarded campus humor and feature magazine, as well as the Daily Northwestern and the Syllabus. The Bixby collection consists of approximately 1,000 items, including interfiled prints and negatives. The photographs document life at Northwestern during the period ca. 1939-1942. Prominent among them are images of courtship, fraternity and sorority rituals, formal dances, student residences, athletic events, theatrical performances, members of the faculty and staff, and notable visitors to campus.

Arrangement Note

The photographs are filed alphabetically by subject. Title index cards divide some of the subjects; each negative is identified with a penciled title on the envelope, while each print is titled in pencil on the back.

Method of Acquisition

The James L. Bixby Photographic Collection was donated to the University Archives by Mr. Bixby (see letter dated December 9, 1985, from James L. Bixby to Kevin B. Leonard, associate university archivist, in provenance file). Exact accession information is unknown.

Processing Information

Sally Chambers and James Parsons, February 1992, Amber Thessen, Spring 2004, Stacy Vogel, February 2005.
Title
Guide to the James L. Bixby Photographic Collection
Author
Sally Chambers and James Parsons, Amber Thessen,Stacy Vogel
Date
01/02/2005
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Repository Details

Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository

Contact:
Deering Library, Room 110
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US
847-491-3354