Guide to the Louanne Watley photographs, 1961, 1985, 1994-2010 and undated, bulk 2000-2010
Photographer based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The photographs and supporting materials in this collection span the years 1961-2010, with the bulk dating from 2000-2010, and relate to photographer Louanne Watley's work in which she documents the religious life of nuns in Catholic convents and abbeys in Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virginia. The images often focus on the womens' individual features through close-ups of faces, hands, and feet. There are also a few images of Buddhist and Trappist monks and their communities as well. The various tonalities, selective cropping, and other variations in the prints produced from the same negative convey the experimental nature of Watley's approach to photography. The formats are primarily black and white prints with some color prints ranging in size from 5x7 to 24x37 inches, contact prints, Polaroids, large color inkjet prints, and variously-sized negatives. Also contains one CD-ROM of Watley's photographic images, a CD-ROM of oral histories conducted by Watley of four Catholic nuns and a Buddhist nun, and a small series of professional papers, chiefly informational material and correspondence related to the religious communities she visited. Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.
- Collection Number
- Louanne Watley photographs
- 1961, 1985, 1994-2010 and undated, bulk 2000-2010
- Watley, Louanne
- 3.2 Linear Feet, 6 boxes; 1 oversize folder, 1590 Items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Material in English
The photographs and supporting materials in this collection span the years 1961-2010, with the bulk dating from 2000-2010, and relate to photographer Louanne Watley's work in which she documents religious life of nuns in Catholic convents and abbeys in Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virginia. The images often focus on the womens' individual features through close-ups of faces, hands, and feet. There are also a few images of Buddhist and Trappist monks and their communities as well. The formats are primarily black and white prints with some color prints, ranging in size from 4x5 to 16x20 inches, contact prints, Polaroids (diffusion transfer process), large color inkjet prints ranging from 24x30 to 24x37 inches, and variously-sized negatives. The photographic materials are arranged into three subseries by format; there are 626 negatives, 638 contact prints, and 23 contact sheets.
The majority of these materials were originally housed in large three-ring binders. Watley shot the images with traditional film and used darkroom processes to develop them. Some negatives were converted to digital form, then into inkjet prints. The various tonalities, selective cropping, and other variations in the prints from the same negative convey the experimental nature of Watley's approach to photography. The collection also contains one CD-ROM of Watley's photographic images, a CD-ROM of oral histories conducted by Watley of four Catholic nuns and one Buddhist nun, and a small group of her professional papers, including informational material about the convents, abbeys, and monasteries; correspondences; personal notes sent to Watley from nuns; and other supporting materials.
Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.
Access to the Collection
Collection is open for research; however, negatives are closed to public use.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
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.
Use & Permissions
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.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], Louanne Watley photographs, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
Consists of three format subseries of contact sheets and prints, photographic prints, and negatives, encompassing Watley's work documenting communities of nuns from Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia, and of a monastic community in Charlottesville, Va. Images are often close-up shots of individual features, especially heads, hands, feet, and eyes. There are also digitized oral history recordings conducted by Louanne Watley with Catholic and Buddhist nuns (restrictions apply), as well as a CD-ROM of 33 images selected from the collection. The digital files have been mounted on a library server; please consult with reference archivist before coming to use these materials.
The numbering system for individual images matches negative images to contact print images and single prints; thus, negative N1 corresponds with print P1 and contact print image CP1. However, in some cases contact sheets and negative sheets also represent groups of images and so their unique number may not correspond to a specific image with that number.
The subjects and locations for images are noted with each folder entry. Contact sheets and prints are arranged in the original sequence as found in the photographer's notebooks, and have been assigned corresponding sequential numbers (CS for contact sheets with multiple images, and CP for contact prints) by the processing archivist.
[There are no prints numbered 16, 17, or 24 (the corresponding negatives have no prints). CP19 has no negative.]
[CP 27 has no corresponding negative.]
Contact prints were originally housed in Notebook #5.
[There is no print numbered 79, but there is a negative #79. Polaroids are unnumbered; they fall between CP78 and CP80.]
Contains prints from the Sisters of St. Francis in Oldenburg, Indiana. There is no print numbered 174, but there is a negative #174.
Contact prints were originally housed in Notebook #1.
Originally housed in Notebook #2. Contains contact prints from the Loretto Motherhouse in Nerinx, Ky; Louisville, Ky; Sisters of Notre Dame in Covington, Ky; Our Lady of the Angels in Crozet, VA; and there are several images of a Buddhist monk in Charlottesville, VA. There is no print 225, but there is a negative. CP237 has no negative.
A series of prints in varying sizes from Watley's Nuns project, with some shots of Catholic and Buddhist monks. The subjects are noted with each box entry. A group of large oversize images of nuns and monks, color and black and white, appears at the end of this series; they are undated and untitled.
Consists of two 4x5 (OP30, OP64-A) and four 5x7 (OP48, OP64-B, OP103, OP105) black and white prints, all mounted on boards; and two unmounted 11x14 black and white enlarged prints (OP2, OP14). Subjects are close-ups of nuns' heads, feet, and hands.
Contains one 5x7 matted black and white print (OP31) of a nun's feet; one 12x14 close-up black and white print (OP95) of a nun's head; one 15x15 black and white portrait (OP6) of a nun's head and torso surrounded by shadow; and seven 16x20 black and white and color prints (OP5-A-D, OP7, OP28, OP238), all extreme close-ups of nuns' eyes, lips, faces, and feet.
Oversize prints: one 16x21 black and white print (OP157) with blue tone, of an unidentified woman in street dress standing beside a chair; two 18x22 black and white prints (OP20 and OP88) of a nun's legs and feet, and of a nun bending over some plants in pots on a terrace; and one 18x24 color print, a close-up of a cross hanging against a tombstone (OP 239).
Digitized selections from Watley's catalog. Contains thirty-three photographs, each available in PSD and JPG formats. Twenty-one are black and white; eleven are color. Many of the images on the CD match the prints in boxes 2-4 of the collection. Files have been transferred to a library server. Please contact Research Services regarding access.
Contains oral history recordings conducted by Louanne Watley with four Catholic nuns from the Our Lady of the Angels in Crozet, Virginia (total running time 00:58:02), and a Buddhist nun in the NC Zen Center in Pittsboro, NC (00:30:00). Topics include the women's religious experiences, life in their community - in particular the role of work, and how they experienced being photographed by Watley. The original recordings were on audiocassette tape. There are no dates mentioned in the recordings, but they probably date after 2000. The digital files have been transferred to a library server; please consult with reference archivist before coming to use these materials.
Interview release forms are in the Collection Control File. Interviews without release forms cannot be accessed without the written permission of the interviewee.
Negatives are arranged in the original sequence as found in the photographer's notebooks. The numbering system for negative images often corresponds to the numbering system for the prints, i.e., negative N1 contains the image on the contact sheet CS1 and corresponds to print P1. However, negative sheets with multiple images may not correspond to a single print with the same number.
Negatives are closed to public use. Please contact Research Services to access these materials.
Originally housed in Notebook #5.
[N79, which has no print, is dated 2003 Sep., Oldenburg, Ind.]
Contains information on various abbeys and monasteries visited by Watley during her documentary project. Materials include correspondence with members of the religious institutions about her project; blank postcards; pamphlets; and older publications about related subjects. Some of the correspondence declines a request for a visit or documents the issues raised by a photographer's presence in a religious community. One folder contains short personal notes to Watley from the nuns she photographed, reflecting on how they experienced the photography sessions and Watley's visits. Also includes copies of Watley's curriculum vitae and an essay she wrote on her photographic work and its course of development over the years. Titles are taken from the original folders.
Louanne Watley, documentary photographer, poet, and artist based in Chapel Hill, N.C., spent her childhood in Danville, Kentucky. Watley's initial career was in nursing, working at various hospitals in North Carolina, Virginia, and Kentucky from 1959-1982, receiving an MSN from Duke University in 1972. She also received a BA in Religion from Duke University in 1970. After her career in nursing and study at Duke University, she discovered poetry and photography. She began taking art classes at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 1979 and continues to take photography and other art classes at The University of North Carolina and Duke University. She has also taken master classes with notable photographers such as Keith Carter, Bruce Davidson, Sally Mann, and Emmet Gowin. Her work has been featured in solo, group, and juried shows at galleries and museums primarily in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, N.C., as well as Nashville, New Orleans, and other cities in North Carolina and Kentucky. She has received numerous awards at these juried shows. Watley's journalistic photos have been published in North Carolina Literary Review and The Sun and her editorial photography has been featured in articles and on the covers of academic and art journals. Her portfolios have also been published in artbooks and journals.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Archive of Documentary Arts (Duke University)
- Catholic Church -- Indiana
- Catholic Church -- Kentucky
- Catholic Church -- North Carolina
- Catholic Church -- Virginia
- Watley, Louanne
- Watley, Louanne
- Buddhist monks -- Virginia -- Pictorial works
- Documentary Photography -- United States
- Monks -- Virginia -- Pictorial works
- Monastic and religious life of women -- United States -- Pictorial works
- Nuns -- Indiana -- Pictorial works
- Nuns -- Virginia -- Pictorial works
- Nuns -- Kentucky -- Pictorial works
- Oral histories -- Nuns
- Religious communities -- United States -- Pictorial works
- Women photographers -- United States
- Indiana -- Religious life and customs
- Kentucky -- Religious life and customs
- North Carolina -- Religious life and customs
- Virginia -- Religious life and customs
The Louanne Watley Photographs were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift from 2009-2012.
Processed by L. Colby Bogie, Ted Holt, and Jen Snow, Jan. 2010
Encoded by L. Colby Bogie, Ted Holt, Paula Jeannet Mangiafico, and Jen Snow, June 2010
Accessions 2009-0288, 2010-0050, and 2012-0125 were merged into one collection, described in this finding aid.