Guide to the Rebecca B. Matlock photographs, 1980s-2015, bulk 1980s-2005
Collection of 848 color inkjet photographs taken by Rebecca Matlock while traveling and living in countries around the world, with a special focus on landscapes, churches and other buildings, people, and culture. Over half of the collection features images from the former Soviet Union during the Gorbachev administration (1980s-1990s), including Central Asia, the Republic of Buryatia, the Ukraine, and Moscow. Notable individuals include the Gorbachevs, Reagans, Bushes, and the Shevardnadzes, secretaries of state, politicians, and military officials. Other subjects include artists, writers, religious leaders, with one series given to dissident and scientist Andrei Sakharov. Other series include: the Republic of Georgia and Tbilisi during and after the civil war; the Czech Republic; the Middle East; the wall dividing Jerusalem; the fall of the Berlin Wall; and Peru. There are smaller groups from the Baltic States, France, Alaska, Hawaii, Japan, Hong Kong, and other places. An additional series has as its subject conductor and opera director Sarah Caldwell. There is also a series of abstract images titled Black and White in Color. Most of the prints in the collection were exhibited; thus there are roughly 100 printed items such as caption and title cards and fliers.
- Collection Number
- Rebecca B. Matlock photographs
- Matlock, Rebecca B., 1928-
- 23 Linear Feet, 26 boxes
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Materials in English
Collection of 848 color inkjet photographs taken by Rebecca Matlock while traveling and living in countries around the world, with a special focus on landscapes, churches and other buildings, and all aspects of society and culture. There are also approximately 100 printed items. Over half of the collection features images from the former Soviet Union during the Gorbachev administration (1980s-1990s), including Central Asia, the Republic of Buryatia, the Ukraine, and Moscow. Many notable individuals appear, including the Gorbachevs, Reagans, Bushes, Shevardnadzes, secretaries of state, and military officials. Other subjects of portraits include artists, writers, and religious leaders in the Soviet Union; one small series is given to dissident and scientist Andrei Sakharov. Other places and events include: the Republic of Georgia and Tbilisi during and after the civil war; the Czech Republic; the Middle East; the wall dividing Jerusalem; the fall of the Berlin Wall; and Peru. There are smaller series from the Baltic States, France, Alaska, Hawaii, Japan, Hong Kong, and other places. An additional series offers portraits of conductor and opera director Sarah Caldwell. There is also a series of abstract images. Most of the prints in the collection were exhibited in the U.S. and other places abroad; thus there are some printed materials related to exhibits and lectures.
Matlock was especially interesteed in documenting the people she encountered in her travels, on the street as well as in restaurants, shopping districts, and at home. Following from her interest in architecture, the arts, and literature, many images have as their subjects artists, writers, editors, and dancers, as well as architecture, modern artwork and traditional crafts.
The Russia and Other Regions series is significant for its often informal and intimate depictions of notable individuals associated with the Matlocks' activities as American ambassadors in Russia: these include Mikhail and Raisa Gorbachev, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, George H. W. and Barbara Bush, Eduard Sheverdnadze, along with several secretaries of state, career politicians, military officials, and religious leaders. Other subjects include artists, editors, writers, and scientists, with one small series devoted entirely to dissident and scientist Andrei Sakharov.
Other notable foreign leaders appear in the Middle East series group entitled "Middle East Leaders," while they attended various meetings and conferences at which the Matlocks were present.
The color prints fall into two size groups: 11x14 and 8x10 inches, with some variability. Almost all the larger prints are housed in thin white window mats and are typically inkjet or laser printed, some at a later date than when they were originally taken.
Most of the prints in the collection were exhibited in the U.S. and abroad; thus, there is a small amount of print materials in the Papers Series related to exhibits and lectures, such as caption cards, title panels, and fliers as well as a Russian magazine, OGONET (1989), with an article about her photography, in Russian.
Arranged in the following series: Baltic States; Black and White in Color; Czech Republic; Far East; France; Germany: The Wall Came Down; The Middle East; Past and Present in Peru; Russia and Other Regions, divided into 11 sub-series; Sarah Caldwell; South and Central America; Special Places; United States; and Other Places. There is also a small series of papers.
Access to the Collection
Collection is open for research. Use is restricted to non-commercial, educational purposes; any other use requires written permission of the photographer.
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], Rebecca Matlock photographs, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
The color photographs forming this collection are arranged in fourteen series: Baltic States; Black and White in Color; Czech Republic; Far East; France; Germany: The Wall Came Down; The Middle East; Past and Present in Peru; Russia and Other Regions, divided into 11 sub-series; Sarah Caldwell; South and Central America, Special Places; United States; and Other Places, which includes images of the Antarctic, Australia, Bora Bora, Canada, the Galapagos, New Zealand, Samoa, and Tahiti, taken during cruises and tours.
Many of the series titles derive from exhibits, and many prints bear caption cards. In addition, there are often large matted exhibit title cards at the beginning of each series. Most of the prints are undated and untitled, but approximate dates were conveyed by the photographer and are recorded for each series.
As Rebecca Matlock engaged in the political and social responsibilities of a U.S. Ambassador's spouse and cultural affairs partner, she was often present at state dinners, meetings, and cultural events, many of which she organized at Spaso House, the U.S. Ambassador's residence, and elsewhere. With camera in hand, she captured portraits of notable leaders and associates: Mikhail and Raisa Gorbachev, Nancy and Ronald Reagan, George H.W. and Barbara Bush, Eduard Shevardnadze, George Schultz, Colin Powell, Howard Baker, James Baker, and many other politicians, religious and military leaders, and artists and writers in the countries the Matlocks visited.
These photographs, usually informal and intimate in comparison to officially distributed White House and Tass Agency images, offer a rare glimpse into the personal and social lives of these individuals, and the often unusually relaxed gatherings and other events in the "glasnost" era.
Other photographs were taken during family trips and tours to places in the United States and abroad; these images tend to focus on landscapes, people, and all aspects of culture, with a particular emphasis on local arts and crafts. Places in the U.S. are chiefly limited to Alaska and Hawaii, although there are other places in the U.S.A Buildings group, and a few images probably from Boston in the Sarah Caldwell series, and some U.S. locations, unidentified, in the Black and White in Color seres.
The title of the series derives from the title of Rebecca Matlock's first solo exhibit, in 1984. The 21 large color prints and one smaller print feature abstract patterns formed by contrasting light and dark tonalities, found in architectural details, human figures, and the natural world. The photographs were taken around the world in various locations. Two other items consist of exhibit title cards.
These images were taken on a cruise in the 2000s. One print is labeled "Blue Grotto, Italy," and two are of the Baltic Sea in Sweden.
This large series of photographs was taken in Prague and other urban locations. Images chiefly consist of public art - mostly sculptures - and portraits of citizens. There are also landscapes from rural areas. One photograph is a view of the monument to the Battle of Austerlitz, 1805, which took place in what is now the Czech Republic. Along with the 24 matted 11x14" prints there are three smaller loose prints.
The majority of these color photographs were taken sometime in the 1980s and 1990s in the Republic of Buryatia, a region of steppes in southeastern Russia bordered by Lake Baikal. They formed part of exhibits on the Far East and thus were retained as part of this original series. Many other images of Buryatia are in the Central Asia sub-group in the Russia and Other Regions series.
The Buryatia photographs chiefly consist of street portraits of ordinary men, women, and school-aged children, with a few architectural and landscape studies, and scenes from such subjects as a horse race, a fashion show, and a wedding. Other photographs were taken in China, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, and unidentified locations. Twenty-one of the prints are smaller unmatted photographs and are also chiefly from Buryatia.
A later addition to the collection, the locations represented in these large prints include China, Japan, and South Korea.
Subjects of the three large prints are: an unidentified glass-fronted building; the glass pyramid by I.M. Pei at the Louvre in Paris, and the rhinoceros sculpture by Alfred Jacquemart, outside the Musee d'Orsay. There is also a smaller unmatted print of an unidentified sculpture.
Images relate to the fall of the Berlin Wall and were taken in 1990, before the official demolition of the Wall. They show citizens and tourists hammering at the wall, embracing each other, selling souvenirs, and standing or posing near the wall. There is also one image of the post-modernist Neue Staatsgalerie art museum in Stuttgart, which has as its subject an outdoor wall with a few stones deliberately removed.
Divided into two groups based on exhibits: The Wall Isolating Jerusalem (10 prints); and Middle East Leaders (14 prints). Also includes a title card for the Wall series. Each group has a description section with more details.
This body of work consists of photographs of the "Separation Wall" dividing East Jerusalem from the West Bank and other areas. It was begun in 2000 and never fully completed. The images often show graffiti on the wall, mosques and other buildings behind the wall, and long-range views of the wall; a few images show people walking nearby.
Almost entirely portraits of leaders, men and women, from Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Israel, and Palestine, photographed in the Fall of 2009. Some were taken at meetings and dinners, and others seem to have been taken in private residences or houses. Names include Saad Al-Hariri (Lebanese Prime Minister); Michel Suleiman (President of Lebanon); Ahmed Maher al-Sayed (Egyptian Parliament); Naomi Chazan (member of Knesset, Israel); Hesham Youssef (League of Arab States, Egypt); Hussein Haider (Hezbollah, Lebanon); Khaled Meshaal or Mashal (Hamas, Syria); and Salaam Fayed (Prime Minister, Palestinian Authority).
Many of these photographs formed an exhibit entitled "The Past in the Present in Peru." Taken in 2013, they include landscapes from northern to southern Peru, scenes from rural villages, ruins such as those of Machu Picchu, aerial views of hilltop carvings, gardens in Lima, portraits of native inhabitants, and arts-related images, with a focus on sculptures, rug designs, wall paintings, and native crafts, especially pottery. There may be a few images from other South American countries included in this series. A later addition to the collection consists of photographs taken in other South and Central American countries around the same time.
Most of the prints bear detailed captions. Some are identified as having been taken by Rebecca Matlock's son Joe as the family traveled together. Along with the 57 large matted prints, there are two smaller loose prints, and there are also a handful of panoramic photographs.
This body of work is the largest by far in the collection, with 580 total prints, and is subdivided into the following groups titled after their exhibitions: Americans and Russians; Andrei Sakarov; At Spaso House; Central Asia and Buryatia; Chautauqua; Faces of Slavic Countries; Gorbachev and American Presidents; Gorbachev in Retirement; Landscapes, Buildings, and Other Scenes; Republic of Georgia and Tbilisi; and Trans-Caucasus (chiefly from Ukraine). There is also one folder with a later addition of two prints. Groups are described in further detail in each section.
These photographs document the gradual thawing in the 1980s of American-Soviet relations, which led to less strictures on contacts between individuals and groups from both countries. Notable individuals featured in the images include Prime Minister Shevardnadze with Ambassador Jack Matlock and Ambassador and politician Anatoly Dobrinin; Mrs. Helena O'Brien Schultz with Tereshkova, a museum director; a young American posing with her host Russian family; young Americans and Russians planting trees; Librarian of Congress James Billington with Kirgiz author Chingiz Aitmatov and a Kirgiz film director; David and Susan Eisenhower; writer Leonid Leonov; and many others. One photograph shows a Fourth of July celebration at a Russian dacha. There are also ten small prints with portraits of American general and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, ballerina Maya Plisetskaya, poet and writer Andrei Voznesenski with Jack Matlock, and Yehudi Menuhin with Andrei Sakharov.
Images of scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov relaxing at Spaso House and at his dacha (summer home). Other people featured include Yehudi Menuhin with Sakharov at Spaso House, where they would draft a letter together to Gorbachev concerning human rights, and the writer Andrei Voznesenski. There are several images of the interiors at Spaso House, as well as interiors and the exterior of Sakharov's dacha, with some intimate close-ups of his boots, books, and other belongings.
These photographs were taken at Spaso House, the neoclassical Moscow residence built in 1913, and which became the U.S. Ambassador's residence. Most of the photographs were taken in the 1980s, and portray the many visitors and events held at Spaso House, many of them arts-related. The majority are captioned.
Individuals featured in the portraits include cellist Yo Yo Ma; pianist Van Cliburn; Katherine Graham of the Washington Post; David Rockefeller; Susan Eisenhower at a celebration of her wedding to physicist Roald Sagdeyev; entertainer Brooke Shields with Bob Hope; conductor Sarah Caldwell and composer Rodion Shchedrin; cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich; members of the Harlem Chess Club; Native American artists; writers Akhmadulina and Aksyonov; and Leo Tolstoy's granddaughter. Political and military figures include Ambassador General Walters; Eduard Shevardnadze; Akhrameyer, a military advisor, with Jack Matlock; Richard Nixon; and Boris Yeltsin.
Mixed with images of people are a few shots of interiors and meeting rooms at Spaso House; one shows several rows of Russian military hats on a coat rack. Other photographs taken at Spaso House are found in the Andrei Sakharov subseries.
Several of the photographs in this series were taken by White House photographers, and are captioned as such; one is of President Ronald Reagan with Jack and Rebecca Matlock, during his 1988 visit to Moscow for the U.S./U.S.S.R. Summit.
The 42 photographs in this series were taken by Rebecca Matlock while traveling with a group across the steppes and high-altitude regions of Central Asia. There is a large group from the Republic of Buryatia. Many of the photographs feature portraits of adults and children, chiefly from villages and small towns; there is a portrait of a monk near Ulan Ude. There are many landscapes, including a scene from Listvyanka, on the shores of Lake Baikal, and other lake settings; buildings such as log homes and architectural details, traditional and modern arts and crafts; musical instruments; and a table set with traditional Buryatian foods. Other photographs taken in Buryatia are found in the Far East subseries, which formed a separate group of exhibit images.
These images were taken at several Chautauqua meetings on Soviet-American relations, held jointly by the former Soviet Union and the United States. The Chautauqua locations were: New York, 1985, Latvia in 1986, in New York again in 1987, Tbilisi in 1988, and in Pittsburgh in 1989. The majority of the images are from the 1988 meeting in Tbilisi. It is unclear if the New York images are from both 1985 and 1987 or from only one date.
The photographs were chiefly taken in the meeting rooms, banquet halls, and other spaces devoted to the gatherings; they feature attendees, speakers, religious dedications, and cultural entertainments put on for the benefit of the participants. Notable people among the USSR and US representatives include Jack Matlock; James Baker and his wife Susan Garrett Winston; Helena O'Brien, the wife of George Schultz; the Deputy Mayor of Tbilisi; Mr. and Mrs. Shevardnadze; Cosmonauts Valentina Tereshkova and Leonid Leonov; and Congressman Amo Houghton of N.Y. There are also 18 smaller prints of participants and panels.
The images in this series are of the people Rebecca Matlock encountered in her travels across Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Most of the prints are uncaptioned. Informal portraits include women, children, and men, individually and in groups; there are editors, artists and writers, as well as workers and ordinary citizens. There is one image of the interior of a home.
Taken at large and small meetings, receptions, tours, and other official events in Russia, the Ukraine, and the White House, photographs in this series convey a point of view distinct from the official images by White House or TASS Agency photographers. A few formal group portraits are indeed from White House photographers and are labeled as such by Matlock.
The prints were originally grouped for exhibits and the title posters are still in the collection: "The Reagans, The Bushes, and the Gorbachevs" and "The Reagans and Gorbachev." Notable people in addition to the Gorbachevs, Bushes, and Reagans, include poet Andrei Voznesensky with Nancy Reagan; Chief of Staff Howard Baker; Russian KGB director Vladimir Kryuchkov; Nancy Reagan with the son of Boris Pasternak at Peredelkino, the Pasternak's summer home (dacha); and Barbara Bush and Raisa Gorbachev cutting the ribbon on a "Make Way for Ducklings" sculpture in Moscow. There is also a photograph of President George H.W. Bush aboard Air Force One, recording his impressions of the meetings on a small dictation device.
These photographs relate to a period of time when Mikhail Gorbachev had stepped down from his role as leader of the former Soviet Union and began a new phase of life following the loss of his wife Raisa in 1999. Images show Gorbachev conversing with Jack Matlock and others at the World Political Forum (which he founded) in Stresa, Italy, attending a World Leaders Symposium in St. Petersburg, and receiving an honorary degree at the Univesity of Oklahoma. There is also a photograph of a modern portrait of Gorbachev on the U.S. Presidential yacht "Sequoia." Includes a photograph of President Bill Clinton speaking in support of the Raisa Gorbacheva Leukemia Foundation. All of the prints are captioned by the photographer. Includes a title panel.
This subseries begins with a general grouping chiefly featuring landscapes of Russia, the Urals, Crimea, and Tajikistan, and other places. There are snowy landscapes, images of bridges and houses, and lakes. then is further arranged into other small groups which have self-explanatory titles: Around Moscow; Art After Stalin; Buildings in the USSR; Churches in the USSR; Circus (the smallest with only several prints); and On Space, which depicts the Matlocks' visit to a Russian space complex where the space station Mir was being constructed (the workers in the images are mostly women). Most of the prints in this series are uncaptioned. Includes some title cards and panels, and one event poster for an Art After Stalin exhibit and lecture.
Images feature artists, museum-goers, artwork in various media, and a children in a classroom holding up their own artwork.
During a tour of the Soviet Union's regions and cities, the Matlocks were given clearance to visit the space complex where the Mir space station was being built. In this unusual look behind the scenes in an otherwise tightly controlled area, one can see women workers, the assembly hangars and other workrooms, and the grounds of the complex, which include outdoor sculpture. The location of this space complex is unknown, but it may be the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, or the S.P. Korolev complex north of Moscow.
Like the Landscapes series, the large Republic of Georgia series is further divided into smaller groups whose titles from an original exhibit panel: Interactions with Americans During Glasnost; Churches and Countryside; Contemporary Leaders; Desperation During Civil War; Euphoria of the Postwar Period; and Tbilisi and Some of Its Residents. Images range widely, featuring rural landscapes; inhabitants and villages; city scenes from Tbilisi; and many types of buildings and dwellings, including churches and one Jewish synagogue. Images from Tbilisi chiefly focus on architectural details around the city, and marketplace scenes.
Notable people featured in the Contemporary Leaders group include Eduard and Nanuli Shevardnadze, and several leaders of Parliament, one of whom was an author of the 1995 Georgian Constitution.
A large group of these photographs relates to the effects of the Georgian civil war from about 1988 to 1993. Images in this series include rural elderly, damage to land and buildings, markets, bread lines, and street vendors, and refugees from Abkhazia and scenes from the South Ossetian conflict (1989-1992).
Includes portraits of individuals as well as groups of men and women, and a phtoograph of a street poster in Georgian advertising an exhibit of Rebecca Matlock's work.
Chiefly uncaptioned images of a Russian ship, a ship's crew, and naval officials. There are also some images of outdoor sculptures. Chiefly from the Ukraine, but there may be other locations pictured.
Includes small prints, chiefly 8x11 inches or slightly larger, from these series: Americans and Russians; Andrei Sakharov; At Spaso House; Central Asia and Buryatia; Chautauqua; Faces of Slavic Countries; and Gorbachev and the American Presidents.
These small prints, chiefly 8x11 inches or slightly larger, consists of images from these sub-groups from the series Russia and Other Regions: Landscapes and Buildings; Republic of Georgia; and Trans-Caucasus.
A later addition to the collection, these prints chiefly consist of landscapes, portraits, and official meetings. Locations are unidentified.
This collection of photographs is related to an autobiography of Boston-based conductor and opera director Sarah Caldwell. The book, titled Challenges: A memoir of my life in opera, was based on a series of interviews conducted with Caldwell in the early 2000s by Rebecca Matlock, who eventually published the book in 2008 following Caldwell's death in 2006.
Photographs in this series are uncaptioned, and chiefly show Sarah Caldwell attending events, posing with others, and at home. Some served as illustrations for the book. There are photographs of the interior and exterior of her Massachusetts house, several shots of unidentified buildings and architectural details, probably in Boston.
Forming part of an exhibit by Rebecca Matlock called "Special Places," these images chiefly from unidentified places in the United States focus on botanical settings with specimen trees and flowering plants, lakes, and outdoor sculptures. Includes 17 large prints from the USA series, and ten small prints, three of which are from the Republic of Georgia and seven from the USA series.
Taken during family trips through the United States, these images chiefly depict landscapes, botanical settings, and wildlife, and buildings with significant architectural interest. The series is divided into three groups designated by the photographer: Alaska, Buildings, and Hawaii. There are seven small prints (all from the Buildings series), and 28 large prints. As with other series, some of these images formed part of exhibits. Other U.S.-related photographs can also be found in the "Special Places - USA" series, which formed a separate exhibit. There are also some U.S. locations in the series on Sarah Caldwell, most likely in Boston.
Images are from the U.S. Buildings series.
A later addition to the collection, these prints were also taken on touristic trips in the 2000s.
The large prints come from Antarctica, Alaska, Australia, Bora Bora, Canada, the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Samoa, and Tahiti. The smaller prints come from unidentified locations; some may be from Japan.
These prints were originally from a folder titled "Miscellaneous countries, including Japan."
A later addition to the collection, the locations of these tourist travel prints include Antartica, Australia, Bora Bora, Canada, Galapagos, New Zealand, and Tahiti.
A later addition to the collection, the prints in this series were chiefly taken on touristic trips to various locations in South and Central America sometime after the 1990s. Portraits of individuals predominate, but there are also a few images of fauna (coatimundi) and vegetation. Captions indicate the photographs were taken in Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua.
This series includes a Russian magazine with an article about Rebecca Matlock's photographic work; there is also a small group of loose caption cards separated from photographic exhibit prints; caption labels on printer sheets; and a few exhibit information sheets.
Rebecca Matlock is a photographer, writer, supporter of the arts, and wife of former U.S. Ambassador to the former Soviet Union, Jack Matlock.
- Jack and Rebecca Matlock Papers, 1930s-2017(Rubenstein Library, Duke University)
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Bush, Barbara, 1925-
- Bush, George, 1924-2018
- Caldwell, Sarah, 1924-2006
- Gorbachev, Mikhail Sergeevich, 1931-
- Gorbacheva, Raisa Maksimovna, 1932-1999
- Matlock, Jack F.
- Reagan, Nancy, 1921-2016
- Reagan, Ronald
- Sakharov, Andreĭ, 1921-1989
- Shevardnadze, Ė. A. (Ėduard Amvrosievich), 1928-2014
- Ambassadors -- American -- Soviet Union
- Artists -- Soviet Union
- Authors, Soviet -- Portraits
- Civil war -- Georgia (Republic)
- Documentary Photography
- Scientists -- Soviet Union -- Portraits
- Women photographers -- United States
- Berlin Wall, Berlin, Germany, 1961-1989 -- Photographs
- Buri︠a︡tii︠a︡ (Russia) -- Photographs
- Czech Republic -- Photographs
- Georgia (Republic) -- Photographs
- Jerusalem -- Administrative and political divisions
- Middle East -- Politics and government -- 1979-
- Moscow (Russia) -- Photographs
- Palestine -- Administrative and political divisions
- Peru -- Photographs
- South America -- Photographs
- Soviet Union -- Churches -- Photographs
- Soviet Union -- Foreign relations -- United States
- Soviet Union -- Politics and government -- 1985-1991
- Soviet Union -- Photographs
- Soviet Union -- Religious life
- Soviet Union -- Social life and customs
- Spaso House (Moscow, Russia)
- Tbilisi (Georgia) -- Photographs
- United States -- Photographs
The Rebecca Matlock photographs were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 2017.
Processed by Paula Jeannet and Rachel Fox, August 2017. Addition processed and described by Paula Jeannet, December 2017.
Accession(s) described in this collection guide: 2017-0004, 2017-0175