Skip to main content

Jonathan Williams photographs

 Collection
Call Number: YCAL MSS 757

Scope and Contents

The Jonathan Williams Photographs include portraits of persons in his social circle, principally poets, painters, writers, artists, and friends, as well as images of outsider art and artists, architecture, gravesites, and landscapes, circa 1951-circa 1997. The collection includes photograph albums of Polaroid prints, as well as loose Polaroid prints, color transparencies, black and white negatives, copy slides, and copy negatives. Overall, the images in the collection document Williams' work as a photographer, as well as his social network, interests, and activities. The collection also includes information about individual photographs provided by Williams and his partner, Thomas Meyer, 2006-2007.

Digital surrogates exist for significant portions of the collection and are available in the Beinecke Library's Digital Images Online database.

Dates

  • circa 1951-2007
  • Majority of material found within 1951 - 1997

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Box 63 (computer disk): Restricted fragile material. Reference copies of electronic files may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.

Existence and Location of Copies

Access to the database created by the processing archivist may be requested. Please consult with the appropriate curator.

Digital surrogates exist in the Beinecke Library's Digital Images Online database for most of the material in Series I and Series II.

Conditions Governing Use

The Jonathan Williams Photographs 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

Purchased from James S. Jaffe on the Ezra Pound Archive Fund, 2006-2007.

Arrangement

Organized into six series: I. Photograph Albums, 1977-2007. II. Polaroid Prints, 1976-1994. III. Color Transparencies, circa 1951-circa 1997. IV. Black and White Negatives, circa 1951-circa 1988. V. Copy Photographs, circa 1978-circa 1993. VI. Electronic Files, 2006.

Associated Materials

Jargon Society Collection, 1950-2008 (PCMS-0019). The Poetry Collection, State University of New York at Buffalo.

Extent

32.1 Linear Feet (63 boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL

http://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/beinecke.williamsj

Overview

The Jonathan Williams Photographs include portraits of persons in his social circle, principally poets, painters, writers, artists, and friends, as well as images of outsider art and artists, architecture, gravesites, and landscapes, circa 1951-circa 1997. The collection includes photograph albums of Polaroid prints, as well as loose Polaroid prints, color transparencies, black and white negatives, copy slides, and copy negatives. Overall, the images in the collection document Williams' work as a photographer, as well as his social network, interests, and activities. The collection also includes information about individual photographs provided by Williams and his partner, Thomas Meyer, 2006-2007.

Jonathan Williams (1929-2008)

Jonathan Williams was a poet, publisher, and photographer. He was born Jonathan Chamberlain Williams in Asheville, North Carolina, the only child of Thomas Benjamin Williams (1898-1974) and Georgette Chamberlain Williams (1904-2000). Williams was educated at St. Albans School, Princeton University, and Black Mountain College, and studied art and design at the Institute of Design in Chicago.

Books of poetry by Williams include An Ear in Bartram's Tree (1969), Blues and Roots/Rue and Bluets (1971), The Loco Logodaedalus in Situ (1972), and Elite/Elate Poems (1979), while his books of photography include Portrait Photographs (1979) and A Palpable Elysium: Portraits of Genius and Solitude (2002).

In 1951, Williams founded the Jargon Society, a small-press publisher that publishes poetry, experimental fiction, photography, and folk art. As a poet and publisher, Williams was associated with the Black Mountain Poets. He also served as a contributing editor to the photography journal Aperture.

Williams and his partner of forty years, poet Thomas Meyer (born 1947), lived their summers at Corn Close, a seventeenth century shepherd's cottage in Dentdale in the Cumbrian hills of England and their winters at Skywinding Farm on Scaly Mountain, near Highlands, North Carolina.

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.

Portions of this guide derive from Filemaker Pro 7 databases created by Jonathan Williams and his partner, Thomas Meyer, and transferred to the library in 2006. These databases identify black and white negatives in the collection, as well as color transparencies of portraits, outsider art, and images that appeared in the work, Jonathan Williams, A Palpable Elysium: Portraits of Genius and Solitude (Boston, Massachusetts: David R. Godine, 2002). The databases also established numbering systems for each group. In 2007, Williams and Meyer also provided identifications for Polaroid prints compiled in photograph albums. In 2009, the processing archivist consolidated information provided by Williams and Meyer in a Microsoft Access database, and supplemented this information with an item-level examination of the collection to create this guide.

The collection includes Polaroid prints originally housed in "magnetic" photograph albums, which are physically harmful to the items in them. For their preservation, library staff removed the Polaroid prints from the original albums and rehoused them in archival sheets and albums, which replicate their original arrangement and expression.

During physical processing, library staff rehoused each loose Polaroid print, transparency, and negative in acid-free paper sleeves.

In 2009-2010, library staff created digital surrogates for nearly all of the Polaroid prints in the collection, including nearly all the prints in the albums.

Former call numbers: Uncat MSS 929 and Uncat MSS 977
Title
Guide to the Jonathan Williams Photographs
Author
by Matthew Daniel Mason
Date
2013
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

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

Location

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.