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Artificial Portraits collection

Call Number: RH PH 540


This artificial collection was assembled by putting together smaller sets of purchased photographs from various photographic dealers, focused on portraits of individuals, couples, and groups. Many of the purchases were selected by Spencer Research Library's Kansas Collection photoarchivist during the 1980s and 1990s. The collection consists of real photographic postcards, lithographic print postcards, cabinet cards, cartes de visite, mounted and unmounted prints, glass plate negatives, and other visually-based formats of individuals, couples, and groups posed formally, often in photographic studios.


  • approximately 1868 - 1986 (bulk 1900s-1960s)

Conditions Governing Access

Glass plate and flexible negative originals are only issued if the curator or head of Public Services gives permission.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.


1 linear foot (2 document cases + 1 box of glass plate negatives, 2 oversize folders)

Scope and Contents

Many of the identified portraits in this collection are of politicians, sometimes with their families, on postcards created in aid of election campaigns. These politicians operated at the local, state, and federal level, and most of them were from Kansas.

Unidentified portraits may be just of an individual's face and upper body or may be full-figured. Photographer information and their location has been included when known, and unidentified portraits have been grouped by similarity (i.e. babies together, children together, etc.) Due to the differing sizes of negatives, glass plates have multiple groupings and may appear to be out of order.


This collection is organized into two series: one for identified portraits and one for unidentified portraits. Identified portraits are in alphabetical order by family name (if multiple surnames are listed, the family name listed first was used in alphabetizing). Unidentified portraits are grouped for babies, children, women, men, couples, and groups of people. Glass plate negatives have been physically separated and are all unidentified.

Physical Location

RH PH 540

Physical Location

RH PH 540(ff)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchases, Frank Wood, 1995, 1996, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008; Don Ulrich, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997; Ruth S. Klopp, 1996; Roger York, 2003; Western Exchange & Gifts, 2003; Dennis Coffey, 2003, 2004, 2006. Transfer from University Archives, 2014.

Related Materials

Consult reference staff for information about other photographic collections in the Kenneth Spencer Research Library that may be relevant.

Purchased photographs for Kansas places are located at RH PH 535, Artificial Kansas-Based photographs collection. Purchased photographs for Non-Kansas based places are located at RH PH 539, Artificial Non-Kansas-Based photographs collection.

Processing Information

Several portraits were treated for mold, which is indicated on those specific folders.

Guide to the Artificial Portraits Collection
Artificial Portraits collection
Finding aid prepared by mwh. Finding aid encoded by mwh. Finding aid revised by mwh, 2020, 2021.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Artificial Portraits collection, RH PH 540, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States