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Robert Adams papers

Call Number: WA MSS S-4150

Scope and Contents

The collection documents the life and career of American photographer Robert Adams, including photographs, correspondence, clippings, writings, posters, printed material, born digital material, and audiovisual material. Photographs include landscape photographs throughout the western United States, portraits, family photographs, and photographs of Adams’s exhibitions at galleries and museums throughout the United States and abroad. Also present are posters for Adams’s exhibitions, reviews of his books and exhibitions, some of his early writings, and his art, primarily drawings.


  • circa 1880-2018
  • Majority of material found within 1950 - 2018


Language of Materials

Chiefly in English. Some materials in German.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Box 20 (digital media) and Boxes 21-22 (audiovisual material): Restricted fragile material. Reference copies may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.

Boxes 16-19 (alphabetical files): Restricted until 5 years after the deaths of Robert Adams and Kerstin Adams. For further information consult the appropriate curator.

Conditions Governing Use

The Robert Adams Papers is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Robert Adams, 2018.


Organized into seven series: I. Photographs, circa 1880-2013. II. Exhibitions, circa 1971-2017. III. Reviews and Press, circa 1970-2018. IV. Early Writings, 1959-1972. V. Artwork, circa 1960-2006. VI. Restricted Papers. VII. Computer and Audiovisual Media.


14.14 Linear Feet ((18 boxes) + 4 broadside)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

Biographical / Historical

Robert Adams (1937- ) is an American photographer whose work focuses on the changing landscape of the American West. Adams was born in New Jersey to Ross Adams and Lois Hickman Adams. He received his B.A. in English from Redlands University in 1959 and Ph.D. from University of Southern California in 1965. Adams married Kerstin Mornestam in 1960. He began taking photographs while teaching at Colorado College in 1963, and became a full-time photographer in 1970. Adams has published over 40 photography books and his photography has been exhibited at galleries and museums throughout the United States and abroad.

Separated Materials

Printed material received with the collection was removed for separate cataloging and can be accessed by searching the library's online catalog.

Processing Information

Collections are processed to a variety of levels, depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived research value, the availability of staff, competing priorities, and whether or not further accruals are expected. The library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Processing Information

5 boxes of publications were transferred to Yale University Art Gallery in 2019.

Guide to the Robert Adams Papers
Stephanie Bredbenner
2021 March
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977


121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours

Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.