May 24, 2011 Historic Photographic Albums Are Subject of Book Discussion

Book Includes Albums by Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Leni Riefenstahl, Frank Sinatra and Others

Press Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217
Public Contact: Center for the Book (202) 707-5221

As photography became an increasingly accessible medium in the 20th century, the popularity of the photographic album exploded, yielding a wonderful range of objects made for varying purposes – to memorialize, document (officially or unofficially), promote or educate and sometimes simply to channel creative energy.

“Photographic Memory: The Album in the Age of Photography” (Aperture Foundation, 2011) traces the rise of the album from the turn of the last century to the present day, showcasing some of the most important examples in the history of the medium, as collected by the Library of Congress.

The book’s author, Verna Posever Curtis, will discuss and sign her work on Friday, June 3, at noon in the Mumford Room, located on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. This Books & Beyond event, sponsored by the Center for the Book, is co-sponsored with the Prints and Photographs Division and the Publishing Office of the Library of Congress. The event is open to the public; no tickets are required.

The book includes albums by acclaimed photographers and filmmakers, among them Walker Evans, Danny Lyon, Holland Day, Jim Goldberg, Dorothea Lange, Duane Michals, Leni Riefenstahl, Frank Sinatra and W. Eugene Smith, as well as lesser-known but equally significant albums. Each album is beautifully reproduced over numerous spreads with an accompanying detailed explanatory text.

An insightful history of the album format and an informative essay about caring for and restoring albums are included. At a time when the physical collection of photographs is becoming increasingly scarce through the ascent of digital publishing, and at a time in which radical shifts have occurred in the status of handmade artists’ objects, “Photographic Memory” is particularly noteworthy as a comprehensive illustrated history of a form of presentation that became something of an art in itself.

Verna Posever Curtis is a curator of photography in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress.

Her book is also the subject of a discussion on Facebook. The new Books & Beyond Book Club is available at Here readers can discuss books, the authors of which have appeared or will appear in this series. The site also offers links to webcasts of these events and asks readers to talk about what they have seen and heard.

Since its creation by Congress in 1977 to "stimulate public interest in books and reading," the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress ( has become a major national force for reading and literacy promotion. A public-private partnership, it sponsors educational programs that reach readers of all ages, nationally and internationally. The center provides leadership for 52 affiliated state centers for the book (including the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and nonprofit reading-promotion partners and plays a key role in the Library’s annual National Book Festival. It also oversees the Library’s website and administers the Library’s Young Readers Center.


PR 11-105
ISSN 0731-3527