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Locating Nonprint Collections

February 20, 1962. District 65 union organizer Frank Brown addresses rally of workers for the Gaylord (corrugated box) Company during a strike against the company. United Automobile Workers of America, District 65 Photographs, Part I: Negatives.

Graphic Materials
Moving Images

Locating Nonprint Materials
Finding Aids
Digitized Images
Un-published Finding Aids
Un-processed Collections
Cataloged Collections
Using Nonprint Collections

Overview of the Nonprint Collections

Photographs, film, videotapes, posters and memorabilia provide a rich visual record of the history of labor and radical politics. Much of this visual material doesn't just supplement information in manuscript collections and papers--it can also provide evidence that is not available in written sources.

Photographs: Tamiment has close to 1 million photographs documenting a wide range of subjects including union organizing, the workplace, the shop floor, the changing nature of work, strikes, rallies, demonstrations, progressive political campaigns, socialists, communists, anarchists, and members of other leftist organizations. They also depict working class resorts, summer camps, New York City street scenes and architecture. Photographs from the collection are often used in films, television programs, books, exhibits, and websites. They have also been displayed at both union gatherings and academic conferences.

A small but growing number of these photographs have been digitized and are on display through the Tamiment website. These include the United Automobile Workers of America, District 65 Photographs Collection in ARTstor (available to NYU-affiliated researchers only); images within the finding aid to the Fifteenth International Brigade Photographic Unit Photographs Collection, which document participation by American volunteers on the side of the Republican government in the Spanish Civil War; and photographs featured in online exhibits via the Tamiment website. Some, but not all, of these digitized images may be reproduced.

Graphic Materials: The Library has a poster and broadside collection of more than 2,000 items, a number of original paintings and drawings, several thousand original pen and ink political cartoons, and more than 6,000 political buttons, as well as t-shirts, picket signs, banners, bumper stickers and other artifacts.

A selection of 1,500 of posters from Tamiment's graphics collection have been digitized and are on display in ARTstor (available to NYU-affiliated researchers only). Selected posters are also featured in online exhibits via the Tamiment website. Some, but not all, of these digitized images may be reproduced.

Moving Images: Hundreds of video documentaries and feature films dealing with labor history and radical politics have been acquired through funding by the Jacob Blaufarb Endowment and the New York State Council on the Arts, as well as by direct donation. Videotapes cannot be borrowed but may be viewed at the Avery Fisher Center (Bobst Library, 2nd floor). A catalogue of these titles may be consulted at the Library. Among these works are two videos produced by Tamiment Library itself, drawing from two of its most important collections: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn: The Rebel Girl and They Were Not Silent: The Jewish Labor Movement and the Holocaust.

The Library also holds more than 40 hours of archival film footage (including out-takes and unedited footage) which are described in a finding aid to the collection. These materials may be screened for research purposes, and some of them may be licensed. More archival film footage is available for research purposes only (contact Nonprint Archivist for information on these materials, which are described in an offline database). The collections also include several hundred hours of film that are part of the Library's Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives and Communications Workers of America collections, a small portion of which is available for research, but not for licensing.

Locating Nonprint Collections

Finding Aids - Researchers should consult the list of finding aids describing processed nonprint collections on the Tamiment Library's website. See the sections on Photograph and Nonprint Collections and ALBA Audio Visual Collections. Researchers may request materials from the processed nonprint collections in person any time the library is open.

Digitized Images - At present only one of the guides allows direct online viewing by all researchers of actual images in a collection: the Fifteenth International Brigade Photographic Unit Photograph Collection (ALBA Photo 011). Researchers affiliated with New York University may also view more than 1,500 posters from Tamiment's collections, as well 5,600 black and white photographs from the labor union District 65/UAW's collection through the ARTstor website at:, under "Browse -- Institutional Collections - "United Automobile Workers of America, District 65 Photographs" Collection - Part I: Negatives" and "Tamiment/Wagner Poster and Broadside Collection." Researchers not affiliated with NYU may view these images while onsite at Tamiment only.

Un-Published Finding Aids - Certain nonprint collections have unique finding aids available in the library. For example, a guide to the political buttons collection in the Tamiment Library is available to onsite researchers. It contains photocopies of the entire collection, divided by subjects and organizations. Researchers wishing to view original buttons instead of their photocopy surrogates must make an appointment with the Nonprint Curator. All 512 drawings in the Laura Gray Cartoons collection (Graphics 13) have been copied and researchers may browse through the copies arranged in binders.

Un-Processed Collections - Many additional nonprint materials reside in un-processed collections in Tamiment for which only an internal database, a printed draft guide, an inventory, or no guide at all may exist. These collections may be open for research by appointment. To learn if any unprocessed nonprint collections contain materials relevant to your research please contact Tamiment's Curator of Nonprint Collections. The Curator can also provide researchers with the proper forms of citation for nonprint materials (which are as necessary for nonprint primary sources as for text documents) in the Tamiment Library's collections. While most materials are available for research, not all may be published, due to copyright considerations.

Cataloged Collections - To find cataloged nonprint collections, try a Basic search in BobCat on Author/Creator, Subject, or a term Anywhere in the Record. Limit your results to the Tamiment Library's holdings by selecting NYU Bobst Tamiment/Wagner from the list of libraries at NYU. If an electronic finding aid is available, follow the link for additional information on the collection.

Using Nonprint Collections

Researchers must obtain a Tamiment Library card before using nonprint materials. To get one, fill out a registration form at the Reference Desk and present a photo ID. Then, request materials using an archival request form.

Updated 10/04/2011

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