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Guide to the Bert Morgan Photographic Negatives
circa 1932-1963, 1981
(bulk, 1960-1961)
 PR 367

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

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Joseph Ditta

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on July 27, 2018
English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Scope and Contents

The collection contains approximately 563 sleeves, each holding one or more 4-by-5-inch black-and-white photographic negatives, for an approximate total of 801. A handful of strip film negatives are in color (see the envelope in the back of box 3). And eighteen are 4-by-5-inch glass plate, black-and-white negatives (see box 4).

Each sleeve (or envelope) carries typed or handwritten information supplied by the photographer, usually the event, the location, the date, and the names of his subjects. A very few sleeves hold prints of negatives, and some include typed captions, business cards, and the occasional newsclipping.

Although Bert Morgan photographed celebrities and socialites at their far-flung haunts, the venues in the current collection are limited to locations in Manhattan: the ballrooms of the Americana, Astor, Plaza, Sheraton-East, and Waldorf-Astoria hotels; the churches of St. Bartholomew, St. Ignatius Loyola, and Fifth Avenue Presbyterian; famous eateries like Lüchow's and the Four Seasons; Madison Square Garden; the Museum of the City of New York; and Bloomingdale's department store.

A majority of the events depicted were charity balls. Besides raising money for some worthy cause, the gatherings provided luminaries with a platform to be seen—and photographed. Morgan's record of his subjects on his negative sleeves (see the container list) reads like a "Who's Who" of late 1950s- early 1960s society, and includes actresses (Eva Gabor), designers (Oleg Cassini), diplomats (Porfirio Rubirosa), foreign dignitaries (Pratap Singh Rao Gaekwad, Maharajah of Baroda), minor royalty (Princess Stephanie of Windisch-Graetz), and the fabulously wealthy (Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney). As many of these charity balls took place during the early 1960s, it is not surprising that "the Twist" makes several appearances in the collection. Morgan notes several couples "doing the Twist." The dance craze was so widespread that at least one fundraiser at the staid Four Seasons was billed as a "twist party" (see box 3, folder 2).

Earlier in his career Morgan documented the dog shows of the Westminster Kennel Club at Madison Square Garden (see box 1, folders 4, 5, and 12), and the annual openings of the National Horse Show (box 1, folder 8; box 2, folder 5; box 3, folder 1), considered to be the start of the social calendar.


The collection is housed in four boxes. Boxes 1-3 hold dated negatives in chronological order, with undated negatives at the end. Due to the possible combustibility of some of these negatives, boxes 1-3 are kept in cold storage. Requests for this portion of the collection must allow at least two full days for it to thaw.

Box 4 holds 18 glass plate negatives. These must not be removed from their four-flap protective enclosures. To view a plate, place it flat on the surface of a lightbox and open its enclosure.