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The Work of Charles and Ray Eames

Collection digitized? No. Some selected images can be viewed in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog and in the online exhibit, "The Work of Charles and Ray Eames: A Legacy of Invention." See Access section below.

Introduction | Access | Ordering Reproductions | Permissions and Credits | Related Resources | Bibliography


Sketch of plywood chairs
Ray Eames, Sketch for plywood chairs, ca. 1945.

The body of material known as The Work of Charles and Ray Eames documents, through more than one million items in a variety of media, the major impact that Charles and Ray Eames had on American design, particularly in the realms of graphic, textile, furniture, architectural, and exhibit design. The material dates primarily from about 1940 to 1978. The Prints and Photographs Division holds the largest portion of the material--more than 750,000 items, about one-third of which has been organized and cataloged. The Library's Manuscript Division holds related textual material, and the Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division holds the Eameses' film materials (see the Related Resources section for further information about their holdings).

Exhibition areas in an aquarium building ... Washington, D.C. Perspective rendering of central pool.
Exhibition areas in an aquarium building ... Washington, D.C. Perspective rendering of central pool. Between 1966 and 1971.

The Prints and Photographs Division's portion of the collection is both an archive of design ideas and a record of the Eameses' work. Charles and Ray Eames photographed their own designs extensively, and also used photography to study natural forms and everyday objects. The collection documents exhibitions, publications, and films for organizations such as IBM, Herman Miller, the U.S. government, Boeing, and Polaroid. It also reflects the Eameses' interest in making scientific and mathematical concepts and history more accessible to a general audience. The photographs include many images depicting the Eameses, their family, friends, and colleagues, including Billy Wilder and Eero Saarinen.


Cataloged Material

The cataloged portion of the Prints and Photographs Division holdings include:

  • Contact sheets and contact prints (30,000), representing 220,000 film negatives (192,000 b&w; 28,000 color)
  • Architectural drawings: 1,000 (ADE Units related to Washington, DC area)
  • Furniture select prints: 2,500 (LOT 13073)
  • Drawings, prints, Christmas cards, and other items selected for use in exhibitions: more than 400

Prints and Photographs Division staff members have grouped the photographic negatives and contact prints and the organized portion of the architectural drawings by subject or project. Catalog records for these groups can be retrieved through the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog. A finding aid available in the Prints & Photographs Reading Room generally gives more detailed information about the contents of the groups.

View catalog records for groups of materials

Staff have also created catalog records and some digital images for a selection of individual items, generally in response to requests for reproduction.

View items cataloged individually
(some display digital images)

Catalog records for both groups and items include the phrase, "Work of Charles and Ray Eames." The most efficient means for searching all of the cataloged material is to:

  • go to the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog and select to search
  • search within the "All Catalog Records" category, and
  • include the words work charles ray eames in the search.

As very little of the collection is digitized, researchers will generally need to make a visit to the Prints and Photographs Reading Room to view the material. Selections may be viewed in the online exhibit, "The Work of Charles and Ray Eames: A Legacy of Invention."

Uncataloged Material

The portion of the collection that has yet to be cataloged consists of:

  • color 35 mm slides (approximately 300,000)
  • architectural drawings (approximately 9,000)
  • other graphic items used to model project ideas, especially exhibitions (estimated 150,000 items).

Materials that have not yet been cataloged may be requested by following the instructions in Prints & Photographs Division's Access to Unprocessed Materials information.

Ordering Reproductions

Researchers can order photographic copies of items in the collection through the Library of Congress Duplication Services. Orders must include the reproduction number of the desired image or, if no reproduction number exists, the full call number for the image.

Permissions and Credits

The heirs of Charles and Ray Eames hold the intellectual property rights to much of the material in the Eames collection. The deed of gift for the collection states that "the materials constituting this and subsequent gifts shall be available for public access for purposes of study, scholarship, and non-commercial use. Persons granted access shall have the right to procure single-copy reproductions for non-commercial scholarship purposes." Permission to publish materials from the collection must be obtained from the Eames Office.

See the Rights and Restrictions statement for full information. It is available online at:

Related Resources

In the Library of Congress

Library of Congress, Manuscript Division
Telephone: 202-707-5387

The Work of Ray and Charles Eames, 1885-1988 (bulk 1965 -1988) - About 150,000 items, mostly office correspondence and business records. A finding aid is available online.

Library of Congress, Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division
Telephone: 202-707-8572

As of September 2004, the MBRS Division has access copies of twenty-four 16mm films and a dozen more titles on laser discs. The Eames estate donated all existing original production elements to the Library in 2003; these will be held in remote storage while a conservation plan is devised for their archival preservation. Viewing copies will be added as the collection is processed and preserved in the coming years.

Outside the Library of Congress

Disclaimer The Library of Congress does not maintain these sites. Users should direct concerns about these links to their respective site administrators or webmasters.

The Eames Office
P.O. Box 268, Venice, CA 90294-0268

Includes information about the Eames Foundation and the Eames House in the Pacific Palisades in greater Los Angeles; also the Eames Office Gallery & Store; and Eames Office Resources.
Herman Miller Inc.
855 E. Main Street
Zeeland, Michigan 49464
Archive of photographs of the Eameses and their products, oral histories of the company, patents, correspondence, drawings, publications, and audio-visual materials.
Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village Research Center
20900 Oakwood Boulevard, P.O. Box 1970
Dearborn Michigan 48121-1970
Herman Miller, Inc., collection of Eames furniture; some on loan to museums.

Vitra Museum
Charles Eames Strasse 1,
D-79576 Weil-am-Rhein, GERMANY

Has custody of furniture and related materials from the Office of Charles and Ray Eames. Charles Eames' office is recreated in the nearby Vitra factory along with Eames objects.

Selected Bibliography

A 1979 bibliography cites important early articles and books:

Spaeth, David. Charles Eames Bibliography. Monticello, Illinois: Vance Bibliographies, 1979. Call number Z8253.8 .S67 [xerox copy in P&P Ref. Files]

Selected recent works:

Albrecht, Donald, et al. The Work of Charles and Ray Eames: A Legacy of Invention. New York: Harry N. Abrams in association with the Library of Congress and the Vitra Design Museum, 1997. Call number: NK1535.E25 W67 1997 [P&P]

Caplan, Ralph, John Neuhart, and Marilyn Neuhart. Connections, the Work of Charles and Ray Eames, Frederick S. Wight Art Gallery, University of California, Los Angeles, December 7, 1976 - February 6, 1977. [Los Angeles, California]: UCLA Art Council, [1976]. Call number NK 1535. E25 E2 [P&P]

De Pree, Hugh. Business as Unusual: The People and Principles at Herman Miller. Zeeland, Michigan: Herman Miller, Inc., 1986. Call number: HD9773.U7 H383 1986

Goldberger, Paul. "The Eames Team." New Yorker, vol. 75, no. 12 (May 24, 1999):92-99. [xerox copy in P&P Ref. Files]

Kirkham, Pat. Charles and Ray Eames: Designers of the Twentieth Century. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1995. Call number NK1412.E18 K57 1995.

Neuhart, John, Marilyn Neuhart and Ray Eames. Eames Design: The Work of the Office of Charles and Ray Eames. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1989. Call number: NK1535.E25 N48 1989. [P&P copy is partially annotated with reproduction numbers].

Prepared by: Marilyn Ibach, Reference Specialist and C. Ford Peatross, Curator of Architecture, Design and Engineering Collections. Last updated: June 2006.
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  March 16, 2012
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