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George Platt Lynes scrapbooks

Call Number: YCAL MSS 139

Scope and Contents

The George Platt Lynes Scrapbooks consist of two volumes along with several loose leaves. Though they have been largely dismantled for preservation and storage reasons, the materials have been cataloged to reflect their original organization. The scrapbooks are stored in three oversize boxes which contain the original leaves and two standard archival boxes, which hold items that were removed. The material, though mostly undated, spans the years 1900-1955, and is arranged into two series, I. Scrapbooks, and II. Separated Items: Photographs and Colored Images.

The scrapbooks present a view of images that influenced Lynes as a photographer, coupled with examples of his own work, culled mostly from fashion magazines. They also include along with articles and images documenting the work of his friends, such as Pavel Tchelitchew and Cecil Beaton. As well, many items were pasted in the scrapbooks for their humorous and cultural appeal. High fashion models appear side-by-side with monkeys, elephants, and decapitated heads. European royalty coexist with movie stars such as Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, and Johnny Weismuller. Other recurring subjects include examples of extravagant interior decoration, postcards featuring scenes of native peoples of North Africa, and photographs of famous writers, musicians and singers.

Lynes' interest in the nude is quite evident in these volumes. Along with a number of clippings of nude men and women in various demuere poses are a group of photographic prints of young men and girls, and sheets with multiple shots of muscular men and women striking artistic attitudes. These include one sheet featuring the Ritter brothers.

Several of the postcards removed from the scrapbook pages revealed messages on the reverse sides, including cards from Tonio Selwart and Max Ewing. Other photographic images include: dancers of the Folies Bergères; Johnny Weismuller posing as Tarzan; a group of shots of men playing water polo; a large group of set and costume illustrations most likely by Pavel Tchelitchew; a portrait of Ambrose Vollard by Brassai; a portrait of a woman wearing a costume made of sealife, possibly after Dali; and one print that is annotated as being by Lynes,

The loose scrapbook leaves contain ten leaves of contact prints made by Lynes and/or PAJAMA (the name given to the collective of Paul Cadmus, Jared French and Margaret French). Most of these pages are labeled and seem to have been taken during the summer of 1941. They feature: Mrs. Lawrence Lowman and Lynes; Paul Cadmus, Lynes and Margaret French on Fire Island; Katharine Anne Porter in Saratoga Springs; Barbara and Lloyd Wescott; Jared French and Monroe Wheeler; Glenway Wescott; Adelaide Sparkman Lynes (Lynes' mother); and Somerset Maugham. The remaining loose pages feature a hodge-podge of images similar to the first two volumes. However, one other page was covered with photographic prints. This group has been identified as friends of Max Ewing posing in his apartment in front of his backdrop of Venice. [This "Carnival of Venice" motif is apparent in Ewing's own photograph albums which are also held by the Beinecke Library]. Among the noted names in this group are: Muriel Draper, Paul Robeson, and Lincoln Kirstein.

Series I, Scrapbooks , contains original leaves. Series II, Separated Items , contains items removed from deteriorating leaves for treatment and deacidification. The listing contains information, following the description, which records the original placement of each item in the volumes. SI indicates Scrapbook Volume I; SII - Scrapbook Volume II; SIII - Scrapbook Volume III. For example, the designation "SII-13" means the item originally was attached to page 13 of Scrapbook Volume II. In cases where multiple items were removed from the same page, they have been further annotated with letters to indicate their placement on the original page (e.g. 13a, 13b, 13c, etc.)

Pagination in all three volumes was recorded using different methods due to inconsistent practice on the part of conservators, which was not discovered until all leaves had been deacidified and encapsulated. Volume I is numbered with a single number for each scrapbook leaf - the two sides referred to as "r" for recto and "v" for verso. Volume II is numbered with a single number for each discrete page, as in a printed book. The loose scrapbook leaves were not numbered at all, so page numbers were assigned by the archivist. Pages that were completely blank (with no evidence of having been used) were discarded, though they were counted in the original enumeration of the pages.


  • circa 1900-1955


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Existence and Location of Copies

Microfilm available

Conditions Governing Use

The George Platt Lynes Scrapbooks are 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 Bernard Perlin, 1999.

Associated Materials

Additional George Platt Lynes material can be found in the Glenway Wescott Papers [YCAL MSS 134], the Monroe Wheeler Papers [YCAL MSS 136], and George Platt Lynes Diaries and Memorabilia [YCAL MSS 147]. Max Ewing's "Carnival in Venice" photo albums are classified under the call number: Za EW55 +G1 5


5.78 Linear Feet (6 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


Two scrapbooks, with loose pages and items, containing clippings, original photographic prints (by Lynes and others, including PAJAMA and Brassai), postcards, and reproductions of artworks. These volumes document Lynes's focus on photographic design elements and his developing aesthetic in his early years. Among the subjects represented are: Royal families; athletes; popular musical and film performers (with numerous images of Johnny Weismuller and Marlene Dietrich); nude models; Pavel Tchelitchew paintings and set designs; high fashion models; and humorous photographs from magazines. Ten of the loose pages feature contact prints of Lynes and his friends and family, including: Paul Cadmus; Katharine Anne Porter; Barbara and Lloyd Wescott; Adelaide Sparkman Lynes; Somerset Maugham; Jared French; Monroe Wheeler; and Glenway Wescott. Another loose page contains 26 prints of individuals posed as part of Max Ewing's "Carnival in Venice" series.


George Platt Lynes was born on April 15, 1907 to Joseph Russell and Adelaide Sparkman Lynes in East Orange, New Jersey. He attended the Berkshire School, where Lincoln Kirstein was among his classmates. Considered inadequately prepared for college, George was sent to Paris, in the care of family cousins, Kate and Walter Hardy, with the goal of improving his basic prepatory subjects. In the heady milieu of literary Paris, he made the acquaintance of Réne Crevel and Gertrude Stein, with whom he began a decade-long correspondence. (see: YCAL MSS 76, Box 115, folder 2406 and YCAL MSS 77, Box 10, folder 136a).

Lynes eventually entered Yale University in the Fall of 1926, though he attended for only a single semester. A move to New York allowed Lynes to further his contact with the literary world he had been introduced to in Paris In January, 1927, he met the publisher Monroe Wheeler and his partner, the writer, Glenway Wescott. Over the next fifteen years, Lynes' emotional life centered around Wheeler and Wescott, with whom he maintained a succession of households in France and the United States. His search for a metier saw him explore writing and bookselling before he eventually found his aesthetic through the facility of the camera. His first informal portraits were done in the late 1920s, but soon he found himself an official society photographer, contributing to significant museum shows, magazines, and having his own one-man exhibitions. He became well-known for his fashion photography and eventually was made the head of Vogue magazine's West Coast studio in Los Angeles in 1946, where he moved following several years of emotional upheaval in his personal life, which included his break from Wescott and Wheeler.

Lynes returned to New York in 1948, but found he was no longer in demand for his commercial fashion work. Instead, he focused on his private interests, male nudes, and documenting productions of the New York City Ballet. His change of fortune, which included a bankruptcy filing in the early 1950s, ended with a diagnosis of lung cancer. He died in New York City on December 6, 1955.

Processing Information

The scrapbook were received in fragile condition. Prior to cataloging, the volumes were treated at the NorthEast Document Conservation Center in Andover, Mass. The scrapbooks were first microfilmed in original condition. Pages were detached from original bindings, photographs and colored printed items were removed from pages, which were then deacidified and encapsulated in mylar. Locations of all removed items were recorded.

Guide to the George Platt Lynes Scrapbooks
Under Revision
by Timothy G. Young
March 2001
Description rules
Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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