Rob Amberg photographs and papers, 1975-2009
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- Amberg, Rob and Archive of Documentary Arts (Duke University)
- The photographs and papers of documentarian Rob Amberg span the years 1975-2009. The gelatin silver prints and pigmented inkjet color prints in the collection represent three bodies of work: The New Road: I-26 and the Footprints of Progress; The Sodom Laurel Album; and The Vanishing Culture of Agriculture. Amberg focuses primarily on the social life and customs of the rural South, especially in the mountains of his home state of North Carolina. Images range from landscape shots taken before and during construction of an interstate highway in the N.C. mountains, to portraits of individuals and families affected by the changes in rural culture. Images also depict agricultural activies such as tobacco cultivation and dairy cattle farming, as well as work in the poultry industry. He has a special concern for documenting the way in which industrial and economic progress seems to be erasing many aspects of rural culture at the turn of the twenty-first century. Amberg's papers account for the rest of the collection and are organized into five series: Correspondence, Printed Materials, Subject Files, and Writings and Research, and Audio. Acquired as part of the Archives of Documentary Arts at Duke University.
- 15 Linear Feet
- Material in English
- Collection ID:
- Scope and content:
The Rob Amberg Photographs and Papers span the years 1975-2009. The photographs consist of 8x10 and 11x14 inch gelatin silver prints and pigmented inkjet color prints. Amberg's focus as a photographer is primarily the social customs of the rural South, especially in his home state of North Carolina. He has a special concern for documenting the way in which industrial and economic progress seems to be erasing many aspects of rural culture at the turn of the twenty-first century.
The collection is arranged into three project series: The New Road: I-26 and the Footprints of Progress ; The Sodom Laurel Album; and The Vanishing Culture of Agriculture.
Images range from landscape shots taken before and during construction of an interstate highway in the N.C. mountains, to portraits of individuals and families affected by the changes in rural culture. Images also depict agricultural activies such as tobacco cultivation and dairy cattle farming, as well as work in the poultry industry. Many of Amberg's images in this last series were funded by the Rural Advancement Fund to document the rural Carolinas, and by the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation. Captions and numbering are taken from original notes on the back of each print. Series are arranged in alphabetical order by title of project.
Amberg's papers are organized into five series. The Correspondence Series contains incoming messages regarding exhibits and the publication of Amberg's books as well as photographic work in other published materials.
The Printed Material Series consists of publications which include or feature his images. Publications in the series are both national and local, including The New York Times and Harper's.
Amberg worked and contributed to a number of non-profit organizations dealing with farm worker's rights and other social issues. Collections of materials relating to these non-profits are housed in the Subject Files Series. Printed materials in this series include annual reports and publications by each organization. Most of the materials include photography work by Amberg.
Included in Amberg's papers is the Writings and Research Series. Content includes multiple versions of the manuscripts to The New Road: I-26 and the Footprints of Progress and Sodom Laurel Album, a publisher's draft of Quartet: Four North Carolina Photographers, a number of interview transcripts, and other writings by Amberg and others.
The final grouping in the collection is the Audio Series which includes a piece entitled Interstate 26 produced by Leda Hartman and a copy of the musical recording which accompanies Sodom Laurel Album.
- Biographical / historical:
Rob Amberg's photographs and writings have been exhibited and published nationally and internationally in journals, magazines, and galleries. He lectures frequently and performs regular documentary assignments for non-profit organizations, philanthropic foundations and editorial publications. He is the recipient of fellowships and awards from numerous organizations, including: the National Endowment for the Humanities, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Center for Documentary Studies, Alternate Roots, the North Carolina Humanities Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
His book, Sodom Laurel Album, was published in 2002 by the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and the University of North Carolina Press. The book received the 2003 Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award from the Western North Carolina Historical Association. In 2005, his work was included in the book Quartet: Four North Carolina Photographers, which was published by Safe Harbor Books. His latest book, The New Road: I-26 and the Footprints of Progress, was published in 2009 by the Center for American Places and the University of Georgia Press.
- Acquisition information:
- The Rob Amberg Photographs were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library as a purchase in 2004, 2007, and 2008. The Papers were received in 2011.
- Processing information:
Processed by Kenneth Dasher, July 2009
Encoded by Kenneth Dasher and Paula Jeannet, August 2009
2011 accession processed and encoded by Meghan Lyon and Carrie Mills, June 2011.
Accessions 2004-0338, 2007-0130, 2008-0049, and 2011-0067 were merged into one collection, described in this finding aid.
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- For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
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- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.
- Interstate 26 -- Pictorial works
Interstate highway system -- North Carolina -- History
Documentary photographers -- United States
Documentary Photography -- North Carolina -- Madison County
Progress -- Psychological aspects
Roads -- North Carolina -- Design and construction
Landscape changes -- Psychological aspects
Land use -- Southern States
Tobacco farmers -- North Carolina -- Madison County -- Social life and customs -- Pictorial works
Tobacco farmers -- North Carolina -- Madison County
Poultry industry -- North Carolina -- Pictorial works
Country life -- North Carolina -- Pictorial works
Dairy farming -- Southern States -- Pictorial works
Tobacco -- North Carolina
Agriculture -- Southern States
- Black-and-white photographs
Gelatin silver prints
- Archive of Documentary Arts (Duke University)
Amberg, Rob -- Sodom Laurel Album
- Southern States -- Social conditions
North Carolina -- Photographs
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[Identification of item], Rob Amberg Photographs and Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.