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© 2011 New-York Historical Society logo

Guide to the Gordon Burris Photographs
 PR 333

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

© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Joseph Ditta, August 2017

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on August 29, 2017
English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Scope and Contents

The collection contains approximately 312 photographic prints from the years 1922–1923 and 1927–1935. (Roughly 278 negatives on possibly unstable, nitrate base film have been transferred to cold storage in the N-YHS Conservation Lab). The majority of the photographs were taken by Gordon Guild Burris, who dated and captioned each image.

The earliest group of photographs (Folder 1) captures his native Nova Scotia in 1922–1923, just before he left for the United States. Of interest to researchers of the built environment of greater New York City are the views taken at Turner Construction Company jobsites. Burris worked for Turner as an engineer, and, possibly as one of his duties, documented the progress of the buildings and their environments. Among the Turner projects are the following, listed in the order in which they first appear in the collection:

  1. New Jersey Bell Telephone Headquarters, 540 Broad Street, Newark (Folders 5–8, 10)
  2. Hotel Lexington, 511 Lexington Avenue, Manhattan (Folders 11, 13, 18, and 20)
  3. Bloomingdale’s, Lexington Avenue at 59th Street, Manhattan (Folders 21, 23–24, 27–29)
  4. Pilgrim State Hospital, Brentwood, New York (Folders 24, 26)
  5. Convention Hall, Asbury Park, New Jersey (Folder 25)
  6. Port of New York Authority Commerce Building (currently home to Google's New York offices), 111 Eighth Avenue, Manhattan (Folders 34–35)

Burris traveled with friends and coworkers in the vicinity of greater New York City, often by ferry or excursion boat, and so documented the waterways, bridges, and boats he saw. He photographed campsites and parks, too, such as Indian Point Park, an amusement venue previously on the site of the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, New York (Folder 15), and points of interest, like the Fire Island Lighthouse (Folder 33). The myriad locations of the photographs are noted in the container list, below.


The entire collection is housed chronologically in one small box. Gordon Burris kept his photographic negatives and prints in numbered, dated envelopes. (Only numbers 10–17, 21–43, 51–52, and 58–62, covering the years 1927–1935, are part of the present collection.) On the envelopes Burris typed a caption for each image inside, the date he shot it, focal length, exposure time, and other details. He also wrote or typed an expanded version of each caption on the reverse of its corresponding print. The prints and empty envelopes (each envelope held from six to twelve negatives and prints) are now stored in folders, with the envelopes behind the prints. A few unnumbered, but dated envelopes are interfiled chronologically (folders 1, 22, 30, 37, and 38). The last folder (44) holds four postcards.