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The Library of Congress will create a new National Stereoscopic Photography Research Collection, fellowship and public program in collaboration with the National Stereoscopic Association to support one of the nation’s largest collections of this photography format, the two organizations announced today.
Stereographs are paired photographs that provide an illusion of three-dimensionality when placed in a special viewer called a stereoscope. They were among the first photographic entertainment formats that became popular from the Civil War to the early decades of the 20th century when new technologies like motion pictures captured the public’s attention. Recent technical innovations like virtual reality have brought renewed focus to both the history and continued use of the stereo format.
The Library’s Prints and Photographs Division holds one of the foremost collections of stereographs, dating from early daguerreotypes in the 1850s to published sets from the 1930s. More than 40,000 have been digitized and are available online at https://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/stereo/.
A monetary donation from the association has established the National Stereoscopic Photography Research Fellowship and annual lecture at the Library of Congress. The award will ensure support for research on stereoscopy and the history of photography within the Prints & Photographs Division holdings and the unparalleled photographic history collections at the Library of Congress — including over 15 million photographs, rare publications, manuscript materials and historic newspapers — and build awareness of the Library of Congress as a premier research center for photographs in this format.
“The Prints & Photographs Division is excited by the opportunity to host its first research fellows dedicated to the study of photography,” said Helena Zinkham, chief of the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division. “The gift by the National Stereoscopic Association will give new scholarly focus to this pivotal, but often overlooked, format.”
“The National Stereoscopic Association sees this as an ideal collaboration, addressing the missions of both organizations. We are delighted to collaborate with the Library of Congress to increase awareness of the importance of stereoscopic photography and to support the scholarship and visibility of photographs as historic resources,” said John Bueche, president, National Stereoscopic Association.
The Library of Congress National Stereoscopic Association Fellowship committee will award up to two fellowships annually (with award amounts from $3,000 to $6,000) to be used to cover travel to and from Washington, D.C., accommodations, and other research expenses to assist fellows in their scholarly research and writing projects on stereoscopic photography, or more broadly within the field of photographic history to the extent that research is connected in some manner to the Library’s holdings on the format.
Graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, independent scholars, creators and other researchers with a need for research support are encouraged to apply.
Additional information about applying for the fellowship is available at this link: https://www.loc.gov/rr/print/national_stereoscopic.html.
The application deadline is April 15, 2022, and notification of selection will occur at the National Stereoscopic Association’s annual convention in August 2022. The Fellowship research must be completed in 2023.
Additionally, the National Stereoscopic Association is donating a complete collection of the organization’s StereoWorld magazine, related research files, organizational records, historic publications, checklists, and member materials to build the collection and assist in the research and interpretation of stereo photography. The collection will provide an archival home and historic record of the association and its contributions to the field at the national library.
The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States — and extensive materials from around the world — both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.govand register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.
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