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Guide to the Arthur W. Grumbine Photograph Collection
[1938]-60, undated
  PR 97

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Sandra Markham

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on November 10, 2011
Description is in English.

Biographical Note

Arthur W. Grumbine was born in Cleona, Pennsylvania in 1901, a fifth-generation descendant of Leonard Krumbein who had immigrated to Philadelphia in 1754. Grumbine had a public school education but left high school after one year to take a job as a telegraph operator with the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad. He remained in that field, eventually taking a job with Western Union and rising in positions of increasing responsibility through 1943.

Grumbine had an interest in photograph from childhood. He built his first camera from a discarded cigar box at age twelve, and purchased his first commercial camera, a folding Kodak, once he found full-time employment. From his first roll of film, he did all of his own developing and printing. While in his thirties, Grumbine became more serious about making pictures, submitting his work to a number of national and international juried exhibitions in which he won more than two dozen awards and prizes. Grumbine's success as an amateur photographer made his professional transition into that field somewhat a natural progression. When a friend working in research at the Photo Products Department of Dupont suggested he apply for a position there, Grumbine took the opportunity to rethink his twenty-five year career in telegraphy and jumped at the offer. At age 42 he accepted an entry-level assignment in one of the company's research laboratories; twenty-three years and four promotions later, Grumbine retired from Dupont with five United States and twenty international patents to his name. His work was primarily centered in commercially produced film for the pre-computerized printing industry, particularly with the development and refinement of Dupont's Rotofilm and Screen Process Film.

Arthur Grumbine died in 1998 in Reading, Pennsylvania. Five years prior to his death he gave his first gift of photographs to The New-York Historical Society, at which time he also wrote a twelve-page autobiography for the Society's files. He was proud of his accomplishments both in telegraphy and with Dupont, writing of the latter "[m]y career with Dupont was not unlike that of a male version of Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland combined." This allusion would appear to extend to his fondness for the city of New York. "Much of my weekend spare time was spend roaming around every neighborhood in Manhattan searching for interesting picture material. It was like a hiking tour of the world. I miss it."