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Guide to the Stephen Harmon Photographs
1942, 1968-2017
 PR 362

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

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Larry Weimer

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 27, 2021
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Scope and Contents

The collection includes color photographs of New York City, primarily in digital format, taken by Stephen Harmon in the 1970s to 2017. (Many photographs in digital formats from this time period and later remain unprocessed, and will be added to the finding aid over time.) The photographs tend to center on either the built environment of the city or the people who interact with the city and its built environment on a daily basis, though there is overlap between these categories. A particularly good example of this overlap in the collection is the series of "subway life" photographs, which include images of New York City's subway trains, stations, and the passengers who use them, often as an essential element of their urban lives and livelihoods.

Harmon's earliest photographs date from the 1970s-1980s and include images of Times Square, the World Trade Center, and people and fashions of the time. The latest photographs date into the 2010s, and include the Santiago Calatrava-designed Oculus at the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, the Gay Pride Parade of 2015, and many others. Ranging across these decades, and especially well-represented in the photographs, are images of Manhattan's Upper West Side, Central Park, and Greenwich Village, as well as many other areas of New York City. Manhattan predominates the collection, but Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx also appear.

Harmon transmitted the digital photographs, which comprise the bulk of the collection, via email over a period of 8 years, from his RCN webmail account to a New-York Historical Society Gmail account. The digital photographs are in JPG format, both born-digital and digitized by Harmon from original physical formats. Digital photographs were either attached to or embedded in his email messages and downloaded individually to local storage. Harmon's emails often included essential context for the digital photos that frequently went well beyond basic facts like date or building name to include backstory, commentary about the subject, humorous captioning, artistic intent and focus, and other deeper context. Accordingly, with only a few exceptions, the contextual emails were saved as PDFs and are included in the collection with the digital photographs.



For the purpose of presentation in this finding aid, the collection is described in nine series. The first eight series, designated with the prefix "D," are digital content and are organized broadly by topics that generally, and at points explicitly, follow Stephen Harmon's categorizations. The tenth series, designated with the prefix "P," includes photographic prints of various forms and subjects.

Series D.I. "Old Times Square" (1980s-1990s)

Series D.II. New York City Buildings, Parks and Other Cityscapes, prior to 2002 (1970s-2001)

Series D.III. New York City Buildings, Parks and Other Cityscapes, 2002 and later (2002-2017)

Series D.IV. "Street Portraits" (circa 1978-1988)

Series D.V. New York City "Street Show" (1995-2017)

Series D.VI. Subway Life (1980s-2017)

Series D.VII. Events (1968-2017)

Series D.VIII. Various Other Subjects (1970s-2017)

Series P.I. Photographic Prints (1942, 1970s-2011)


The digital files reflected in this finding aid were received by N-YHS in over 525 emails sent over the course of several years, from 2012-2017. Further, over 1000 emails and other transmissions received later have not yet been processed and will be added to the finding aid in the future. In part for this reason, the digital files are named, organized and stored in a chronological order (generally using date received) and not in accordance with the above series. For patrons requesting and receiving specific files, this difference will not matter. However, it will matter for patrons working more generally or with the entirety of the collection as they will need to use the chronological "digital folder" identifier, which uses a YYYYMMDD format, from the finding aid to navigate through the collection to locate specific images. The N-YHS Reference Librarian can provide any further guidance as needed.