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Archive of Documentary Arts, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University

Durham, NC   

The Archive of Documentary Arts (ADA) in the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library collects, preserves, and makes accessible audio, moving images, photography, and text from around the world related to African-American history & culture, the American South, gender, human rights, occupational culture, migration, race and ethnicity, and social change.


Photographs and audiovisual materials in one format or another have been an unrecognized component of manuscript collections since the birth of photography. The Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library collections contain an extensive array of photographic formats documenting the history of the photographic and moving image process including: daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, autochromes, tintypes, albumen prints, salted paper prints, carbon prints, platinum prints, cyanotypes, silver gelatin prints, chromogenic color prints, acetate motion picture film, and nitrate motion picture film.


Since the early 1980s, ADA has been actively collecting documentary photography and film in support of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University (formerly known as the Center for Documentary Photography). The collecting initiative focuses on acquiring and preserving the entire body of a photographer or filmmaker’s work, including negatives, contact sheets, work prints, finished prints, correspondence, journals, motion picture footage, and sound recordings.


ADA works closely with Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies, the Program in the Arts of the Moving Image, and the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. Since April 2007, ADA has partnered with the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival to acquire, archive, and preserve copies of the festival’s award-winning films.