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Guide to the Olive Pierce Photographs, 1960-2008

Abstract

Documentary photographer based in Rockland (Knox Co.), Maine.

The Olive Pierce Photographs span the years 1960-2008. The collection is arranged into three series: Photographs, Manuscripts and Printed Material, and Electronic Material. Documentary black and white photographs taken by Pierce feature Maine life and landscapes from 1960-1993; daily life, political turmoil, and social conditions in urban Massachussetts neighborhoods; and life in Iraq in 1999 and 2003, as well as protests in the U.S. against that war. Also includes manuscript, print, and electronic material related to Pierce's published works and her career as a documentary photographer and teacher of photography.

Descriptive Summary

Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
Creator
Pierce, Olive
Title
Olive Pierce photographs 1960-2008
Language of Material
English
Extent
24.5 Linear Feet, 700 Items
Location
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Collection Overview

The Olive Pierce Photographs span the years 1960-2004 and are arranged in three series: Photographs, Manuscripts and Printed Material, and Electronic Material. Documentary black and white photographic prints taken by Olive Pierce focus on New England life and landscapes from 1960-1993, and life in Iraq in 1999 and 2003, as well as protests in the U.S. against that war. The earliest body of Pierce's work (1960-1968) features landscapes and individuals in Maine. A second group of images from Maine assembled by the photographer date from 1963 to 1993. Other prints document social and political controversy in Cambridge, Massachusetts during the early 1970s; social life in the Jefferson Park neighborhood in Cambridge during the 1970s; teenage life in a Cambridge high school in the early 1980s; everyday life of a fisherman's family in Maine from the late 1980s to the early 1990s; the daily lives of Iraqi children in 1999 during the period of UN sanctions; and protests in the U.S. against the war in Iraq. Collection also includes Pierce's "On Teaching Photography" guide (1987); as well as a poster for the exhibition on war protests, "On the Bridge, A Community Speaks: Photographs by Olive Pierce" ; a copy of the Fall 2004 issue of Vassar's alumni magazine, which contains a photo-story by Pierce; and a copy of the magazine Maine Times, which contains six photos by Pierce accompanying an article on Iraq war protests in the U.S. (September 2003). Other items include postcards featuring her images of Iraqi children, and proofs for several collections of Pierce's images accompanied by text written by her. The Olive Pierce Photographs were acquired as part of the Duke University Archive of Documentary Arts.

Administrative Information

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 48 business hours in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

In addition, original audiovisual materials are closed to patron use. Use copies must be made for access to content.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

warning Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Contents of the Collection

Olive Pierce's earliest documentary photographs, taken in the 1960s, feature landscapes and individuals in Maine; a second group of images taken in Maine cover the years 1963-1993. Other prints in this series document social and political controversy in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1970-1972; the social life in the Jefferson Park neighborhood in Cambridge during the 1970s; teenage life in a Cambridge high school in the early eighties; everyday life of a fisherman's family in Maine from the late 1980s to the early 1990s; and the daily lives of Iraqi children in 1999 during the period of UN sanctions, as well as protests in the U.S. against the war in Iraq. Prints are arranged by project, roughly in chronological order, and further by size.

To the shore, 1960
Box 8
Catching crickets, 1960
Box 8
Aunt Edie's house, 1963
Box 8
Three children in doorway, 1964
Box 8
Girl in window, 1964
Box 3
Winter harbor, 1963
Box 3
John Hildings, 1967
Box 3
Bluff Head, 1967
Box 3
Overturned boat, Louds Island, Maine, 1968
Box 3
The balcony, firing of the City Manager, 1970
Box 1
Police barring the doors, rent control hearing, 1971
Box 1
Police brutality hearing, 1971
Box 1
Speaker, Larry Largey hearing, 1972
Box 1
Larry Largey protest, 1972
Box 1
Riot squad on Cambridge Street after Larry Largey's death, 1972
Box 1
Spectator, Cambridge City Council, 1970
Box 2
Councilors Crane & Daneby, Cambridge City Council, 1970
Box 2
Man with newspaper, Cambridge City Council, 1971
Box 2
Pledge of Allegiance, Cambridge City Council, 1970
Box 2
Crossing the tracks, 1974
Box 8
Alex, 1974
Box 8
Learning to smoke, 1974
Box 8
Baby, 1975
Box 8
Dance, 1975
Box 8
Hanging out, 1976
Box 8
Boys in doorway, 1973
Box 3
The Sawyer brothers, McCrehan Pool, 1973
Box 3
Boys and cars, 1974
Box 3
Joan & her siblings, 1974
Box 3
Senior Prom, 1982
Box 8
Body builders, 1984
Box 8
Welding class, 1983
Box 8
Dance class, 1983
Box 8
Track Meet, 1983
Box 8
Between classes, 1983
Box 3
Football bus, 1984
Box 3
Reginald & Mr. Meyer, 1983
Box 3
Psychology class, 1983
Box 3
Glynis & Natasha, 1983
Box 3
Friends, English class, 1982
Box 3
Ella Powe
Box 2
Laura Madrigal
Box 2
Fred Owens
Box 2
Mark Agard
Box 2
Kenny Berube
Box 2
Nilda Rosado
Box 2
Alejandro Levins Morales
Box 2
Karen & Tynika Booth
Box 2
Becky, Madeline, & Jacko, 1988
Box 6
Jessica in the snow, 1989
Box 6
Burial, 1988
Box 6
Amanda & Tanya, 1987
Box 6
Early morning fog, 1990
Box 6
Ricky & Daniel, 1990
Box 6
Nissen bread, 1991
Box 6
The Carter men, 1988
Box 6
Winter clam digging, 1992
Box 6
Winter harbor, 1963
Box 6
Beth & Christopher, 1987
Box 5
Harvey family skiff, 1990
Box 5
Minnie, 1987
Box 5
Nate & the bluefish, 1988
Box 5
Donny's first deer, 1987
Box 5
Benny's seafood, 1991
Box 5
Randy & John, 1988
Box 5
Michael, 1991
Box 5
Debbie's Wreath, 1987
Box 5
Money Tree Party, 1992
Box 5
Amanda, 1987
Box 5
Saturday afternoon, 1991
Box 5
Wayne's family, 1988
Box 5
Baitshed, 1987
Box 5
Raking Blueberries, 1993
Box 5
Outside Baghdad General Hospital, 1999
Box 7
Girl selling seeds, Safaafir market, Baghdad, 1999
Box 7
Five children, Basrah, 1999
Box 7
Mother and daughter, Amarah Children's Hospital, Amarah, 1999
Box 7
Boy and beggar, Jumhuriyah neighborhood, Basrah, 1999
Box 7
Girls' classroom. Center for the Internally Displaced, Basrah, 1999
Box 7
Before School, Dijlah Elementary School, Baghdad, 1999
Box 4
Little girl in hospital bed, 1999
Box 4
Carrying water, 1999
Box 4
Recess, 1999
Box 4
Nurse, Basrah, 1999
Box 4
Waiting for medicines, Baghdad General Hospital, 1999
Box 4
Mothers & Children, Baghdad General Hospital, 1999
Box 4
Porters, Safaafeer Market, 1999
Box 4
Cigarette vendors, Baghdad, 1999
Box 4
Families, Basrah Pediatric Hospital, Iraq, 1999
Box 4
Recess, Dijlah upper school, Baghdad, 1999
Box 4
Boy near The Garden of Eden, Qurhah, Iraq, 1999
Box 4
On the bridge, 2003
Box 8
Promote dialogue, 2003
Box 8
They gave there [sic] tomorrows, 2003
Box 8

Proofs, notes, and publicity related to several of Pierce's published works, and her career as a documentary photographer.

Iraq's Children: Our Children, photos, and text, 2002
Box 9
From Boston to Baghdad, photos and text, 2001
Box 9
Frank Hunter classroom materials, 2008

Student papers from Frank Hunter's Introduction to Photography class, Documentary Studies 115.01, responding to the exhibit "Olive Pierce: Forty Years of Photographs, 1963-2003." Olive Pierce reviewed and wrote comments on the papers.

Box 9
Iraqi Children, postcards of Pierce's images, 1999
Box 9
Vassar publication and Maine Times magazine, 2003-2004
Box 9
On Teaching Photography, 1987
Box 9
Poster for On the Bridge exhibit, 2003
Oversize Box 20

DVD created by Olive Pierce with images and audio titled "Fern's Last Days." Also, digital sound file of talk given by Pierce at Duke University, October 24, 2008 at the opening reception for the exhibit, "Olive Pierce: Forty Years of Photography." File has been mounted to library server. For access to both items, please contact the Rubenstein Library reference staff.

[Original DVD is closed to research; a use copy must be made before contents can be accessed. Please contact Research Services staff before coming to use this collection.]

Fern's Last Days, 2008
(DVD, 24 minutes)
Box 9
Online Exhibit: Olive Pierce: Forty Years of Photographs (1963-2003), featuring digital sound file of artist's talk, 2008 Oct. 24
(MP3, 39 minutes)
Box 9

Historical Note

Olive Pierce was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1925. Since her father had a secure job as a banker, her family's lifestyle was not much changed by the Depression. However, she was profoundly affected by driving through the Dustbowl in the early thirties and seeing families who had lost everything moving west in trucks. She was educated at Vassar College, graduating in an accelerated wartime program in 1945. In 1948 she went to Poland as a secretary to a post-World War II medical mission. She returned with snapshots of Auschwitz and Warsaw in ruins and with the desire to become a photographer.

Pierce had as her mentors and teachers photographers Berenice Abbott and Paul Caponigro. In 1976 she received a fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute which turned her toward documentary work. In 1986 she published No Easy Roses: A Look at the Lives of City Teenagers, based on her experience as a teacher of photography at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. Ten years later, she published Up River: The Story of a Maine Fishing Community.

The 1990 Gulf War shocked Pierce into political awareness about American foreign policy in the Middle East. To oppose the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq, she went illegally to Baghdad and Basrah in 1999 under the auspices of Voices in the Wilderness to photograph children. In 2004, after fifty years of working as a photographer, she turned her attention to an audio documentary about the death of a Maine lobster fisherman. She is presently working on a novel with a related theme.

Pierce's photographs have been shown in Massachusetts, Maine, and Chicago, Illinois. She is represented in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, Massachusetts; the Portland Museum of Art; and the Farnsworth Art Museum in Maine.

Subject Headings

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Olive Pierce Photographs, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University

Provenance

The Olive Pierce Photographs were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 2006 and 2008.

Processing Information

Processed by Karen Glynn, Paula Jeannet Mangiafico, December 2008

Encoded by Paula Jeannet Mangiafico, Katy Terrell, February 2009

Accessions 2006-0036, 2006-0112, 2008-0052, and 2008-0093 were merged into one collection, described in this finding aid.

Accession 2009-0152 added to collection and finding aid by Meghan Lyon, June 2009.

Descriptive sources and standards used to create this inventory: DACS, EAD, NCEAD guidelines, and local Style Guide.

This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.