|Avery Drawings & Archives Collections|
At a Glance
The collection is organized by job number, as assigned by Molitor. Negatives are stored separately from prints and other formats.
The bulk of this collection consists of more than 22,000 black and white photographic negatives and more than 10,600 black and white photographic prints documenting commercial, institutional, religious, and residential architecture throughout the United States, with particular emphasis on sites in the mid-Atlantic region. These images date from the mid-1930s to Molitor's retirement in the mid-1980s, with the great majority of images created between 1946 and 1980. Also included in the collection are images of landscapes, industrial design, portraits, and events of personal significance to Molitor. In some select cases, color prints, color negatives, color transparencies, and 35mm slides are also available in addition to or instead of the black and white negatives and prints. Researchers are also advised that documents in this collection indicate that when faced with a lack of storage space in 1973, Molitor contacted clients to return inactive negatives that they had comissioned before 1955. In at least some cases, those clients declined to accept their negatives and Molitor subsequently destroyed the images. Thus, this collection has lacunae in the negatives series.
The electronic inventory available for researchers records the project name, client name, and dates of photography from Molitor's job book, which appears to be a remarkably accurate list of the negatives and prints held in the archive. Please note that Molitor photographed most buildings shortly after completion, although photographs contracted for publication may postdate the building's completion by several years
Using the Collection
Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library
Restrictions on Access
This collection is available for use by appointment in the Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University. For further information and to make an appointment, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Copyright held by Columbia University. Permission to publish must be obtained in writing from the Director, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, 1172 Amsterdam Ave., MC 0301, New York, NY 10027.
Joseph W. Molitor architectural photographs. Located in Columbia University, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Department of Drawings & Archives.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Source of acquisition--Purchased by Avery Library from the Joseph W. Molitor Estate, with funding from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and from private donors. Accession number--1996.023.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library
Electronic inventory prepared LDG and JCT 2006.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Joseph W. Molitor, recognized as a peer of such leading 20th-century American architectural photographers as Ezra Stoller, Hedrich-Blessing, George Cserna, Julius Schulman, and Balthazar Korab, documented the work of regional and national architects for fifty years. Trained as an architect, he practiced for twelve years before briefly working in advertising. Molitor turned exclusively to architectural photography in the late 1940s, maintaining his studio in suburban Westchester County, New York.
Working primarily in black and white, his images appeared in Architectural Record, the New York Times, House & Home, and other national and international publications. Molitor's iconic image of a walkway at architect Paul Rudolph's high school in Sarasota, Florida, won first place in the black and white category of the American Institute of Architects' architectural photography awards in 1960. He also served several terms as president of the Architectural Photographers Association, and published a guide to photographing the built environment, titled Architectural Photography, which included many examples of his own work. Molitor retired from practice in the mid-1980s.