Contact Sheets, 1954-1992 and undated

Access Restrictions:

Due to copyright and privacy issues, some images in the Contact Sheets Series have not been published online, but are available onsite for educational and research use. These include the St. Joseph's School for the Deaf, Kansas State Hospital, and Gedney's commercial work.

More about accessing and using these materials...
Scope and content:

Series houses over 2100 contact sheets that Gedney made from cut negative strips, arranged in original contact sheet number order and representing roughly 110,000 unique image frames. With a few exceptions, the contact sheets preserve the chronological sequence of Gedney's work from 1954 to 1987.

The last group of contacts developed (NY32-NY36) were printed in 1989 and 1992 by close friend Peter Bellamy from negative rolls found in Gedney's apartment after his death in 1989. Other very late images are found on the last numbered contact sheets in the series and in the Nudes series (NU) shot in the 1980s.

The contact sheets are where Gedney's editorial process began: he circled the most promising frames in red or white grease pencil, then developed these as proof prints for further evaluation and development. These selected proofs are also found in the collection, as well as the final versions in the form of larger "finished" or "archival" prints, as Gedney labeled them.

Most of the contact sheets measure 11x14 inches, each typically displaying seven to ten strips of about six positive images each; thus, each contact sheet carries roughly 42-60 unique images. All the major bodies of work are represented, as well as many other sequences that are not present in the large prints or even in the proof prints. Some of these are more personal in nature and feature Gedney's family, friends, and self-portraits. Many contact sheets also carry dates, locations, names of people, and even times of day.

Some of the earliest contact sheets were made from cut single frame negatives, but beginning in the late 1950s, Gedney began to print whole 35mm negative strips. He devised a reference system for each unique frame deriving from three numbers: a unique contact sheet number, row number, and frame number (stamped on the negative, though sometimes Gedney assigned frames position numbers of 1 to 6.).

Generally Gedney used only the row and frame numbers as identifiers, but library staff standardized them to include the contact sheet. Thus, the image identifier 1892-2204-12 signifies contact sheet 1892, row 2204, negative frame 12. Gedney changed his system slightly at various times, reprinted and renumbered contact sheets of early work, and there are some early unnumbered contact sheets, but in general the library staff have used Gedney's original identification system to identify unique images.


Using These Materials

Using These Materials Links:

Using These Materials

Collection restrictions:

Portions of the collection are closed pending digitization.

Negatives and original audiovisual media are closed to use. Viewing and listening copies are available upon advance request.

Please contact the Rubenstein Library before coming to use this collection.

Use & permissions:

The copyright interests for Gedney images in this collection are held by Duke University. However, some commercial work, audio recordings, and materials by other creators, may carry other copyright considerations. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, or contact the Rubenstein Library.

Before you visit:
Please consult our up-to-date information for visitors page, as our services and guidelines periodically change.