Visual Arts Collections

Special Collections:more_vert

houses rare, fragile, and unique materials ranging from a 4,000 year old Sumerian tablet to early printed books, photographs and prints, sheet music, ephemera, and history and literature collections. Learn more about our Visual Arts collections below.

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call813-974-6266Matt Knight
Assistant Librarian
call813-974-7355Melanie Griffin
Assistant Librarian
call813-974-7622Andy Huse
The Special Collections Department of the University of South Florida Tampa Library supports the research and teaching missions of the University of South Florida by acquiring, preserving, and providing access to select and targeted monographs, manuscripts, illustrations, maps, sheet music, photographs, archival materials, and printed ephemera, as well as audio/video, images, and text in select digital formats. Collections are intended for use by the university community as well as the general public according to the policies and procedures established by the Department.

Sally Bird Howry Collection of Albumen Prints

This collection consists of 143 photographs, primarily albumen prints. Sally Bird Howry, from Monticello, Florida, assembled the collection into scrapbooks during the first decades of the 20th century. The photographic prints depict architectural wonders as well as art works related to the Howry family’s frequent trips to locations including Greece, Italy, Turkey, Israel, Belgium, France, Germany, and Switzerland between 1900 and 1928. Created by professional firms, these photographs provided affordable keepsake images for travelers. Most of the prints collected by Howry bear studio stamps and identification numbers of Victorian photographic firms, including Edizioni Brogi, Fratelli Alinari, Maison Bonfils, and Sebah and Joaillier. It is difficult to be certain of the dates that these photographs were taken, even if one is given on the print. Photography firms frequently republished their work, perhaps decades after taking the original photograph. Researchers interested in the history of photography, commercial branding, the commodification of place, and tourism will find this collection an especially rich resource.

The prints in this collection were originally bound in a leather and synthetic leather album, 14.25 inches high, 11.5 inches wide, 2 inches deep, on acidic paper. They have been removed from the album for preservation purposes; the original order of the prints has been retained. The album was digitized and then destroyed due to its deteriorated condition.
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Mahan Collection of American Humor and Cartoon Art

The Mahan Collection of American Humor and Cartoon Art is an extensive collection of animation cels, drawings, comic strips, cartoon panels, caricatures, illustrations, model sheets, posters, books, auction catalogs, DVDs, ephemera, and realia. The collection also includes over 100 years of American editorial cartoons. Dr. Charles S. Mahan, USF College of Public Health Professor Emeritus, developed an aptitude for and fascination with art at an early age. His interest in animation led him to write letters to many of his favorite Disney and Hollywood animators, who frequently responded by sending him samples of their art work. At age 14, Mahan acquired his first signed Walt Disney work at a charity auction in Morgantown, West Virginia. This collection is a result of Dr. Mahan’s lifelong passion for cartoon art.

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Click here to view an online exhibition highlighting political cartoons from the collection »

Photographic Lantern Slide Collection

The photographic lantern slide collection consists of 581 4 x 3¼ inch mounted-glass lantern slides depicting world travel sites and historical subjects. More than half of the slides are hand-colored. The diverse range of photographs includes popular tourist destinations, sacred spaces, landscapes, architecture, transportation, agricultural scenes, and vignettes of everyday activities. The slides document a visual history that has either disappeared or changed significantly over the past century.

Documentation pertaining to this collection is limited to information affixed to the slides. Studios, manufacturers, and retailers are identified on printed or handwritten labels, and some slides bear dates ranging from 1902 to 1929. The hand colorists known as “the Misses Griffith” are identified on a number of slides, but in most instances the photographer’s name and the date of the negative’s creation are not indicated. Nonetheless, the collection documents the products of a number of photographers, manufacturers, retailers of optical supplies, and hand colorists.

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To learn more about lantern slides, click here »

Archibald Slaymaker Glass Plate Negatives Collection

Archibald Slaymaker (1867-1939), the son of Amos Barr Slaymaker, owned and operated the Slaymaker-Whittier Dry Goods Store in Clarke’s Gap, Virginia. The Archibald Slaymaker Collection includes carte de visite photographs, black and white prints, and glass plate negatives. The collection is largely family-centric, documenting the home and social life of the Slaymaker family in Virginia’s Albemarle County during the years leading up to the Civil War. The collection also includes the typescript of a Slaymaker family history in the 20th century written by Addison Slaymaker, a Tampa resident and the donor of this historic photograph collection.

There collection includes 19 carte de visite photographs, featuring shots of Jefferson and Varina Davis, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, John S. Mosby, Braxton Bragg, as well as other Confederate officers. There are also 31 black and white prints and 39 extant glass plate negatives that feature members of the Slaymaker family, African American children and families, houses, and buildings in Clarke’s Gap. 46 of the original glass plate negatives have been digitized and are available online.

Click here to access the glass plate negatives online »

Noel Wisdom Collection of Chromolithographic Prints

Assembled by Noel Wisdom, an accomplished silhouette artist and avid collector, this collection includes greeting cards, trade cards, postcards, specialty cards, die-cut scraps, advertisements, and a few reproductions of fine art. It provides excellent examples of chromolithographic techniques such as stripling, innovations, and the use of bronze powders. Approximately one-third of the collection can be attributed to specific companies of the era.

Noel Wisdom (1896-1983) was born in Chicago but spent much of his childhood and adolescence in England, eventually serving with the British armed forces during World War I. While Wisdom pursued a number of careers throughout his life, his passion was for art, and he ultimately became a noted silhouette artist. His success as a sillhouettist enabled him to travel the world, and he collected early printed, ephemeral artwork over the course of his journeys. Upon retiring to St. Petersburg, Florida, Wisdom donated his fine collection of prints to USF’s Special Collections.
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Yorkunas Collection

The Yorkunas collection chronicles the weekly – sometimes daily – correspondence between Tampa commercial artist Alvin P. Yorkunas and his wife, Mary Anne. An accomplished artist, Yorkunas often illustrated his letters and envelopes with images drawn from both his personal life and military experiences. These letters give a rare and often humorous insight into the daily life of an early Tampa resident, his drawings from abroad, and his memories of home.

The collection includes correspondence, personal journals, military documents, postcards, photographs, artwork, printed ephemera, and realia. The bulk of the collection relates to Alvin P. Yorkunas’ service in the Army Air Forces during World War II (1942-1946) and with the Air Force’s Strategic Air Command (1951-1954). The collection also includes materials relating to his pre-war and post-war life in Tampa, Florida. The heart of the collection consists of approximately 650 letters written by Yorkunas to his wife Mary Ann during World War II and a 115-page illustrated daily journal Yorkunas kept while stationed on Saipan and Guam from October, 1944 to March, 1945.

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Click here to read more about Alivin P. Yorkunas »