Ansel Adams Prints Found Sitting in a Box in a UC Berkeley Library

UC Berkeley’s library system is the fourth largest library in the United States, so it’s no wonder that treasures are often forgotten and buried inside the rare collections. Case in point: a massive collection of signed prints by Ansel Adams have been discovered in one of the 32 libraries, just sitting around in a box.

The San Francisco Chronicle writes that dance professor Catherine Cole made the discovery after following a trail of documents:

“I kept seeing the name Ansel Adams and thought ‘what the heck is he doing all over the UC archives,’ ” says Cole, who followed this lead to the Bancroft Library, where 605 signed fine prints by Adams sat in a box, among the university’s rare collections.

[…] “This is an extraordinary resource that has been buried like a time capsule,” says Cole, 49, who discovered the prints while doing independent research on the California Master Plan for Higher Education.

Adams had been commissioned in 1964 to photograph the University of California school system by then-President Clark Kerr.

UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library, where the prints were discovered

If you’re in the Berkeley area, you should stop by the Bancroft Library Gallery, where 50 of the beautiful photographs are now on display for free public viewing. Most of the found prints have never been exhibited before, so you’ll be in for a treat!

Image credit: Photographs by Ansel Adams/Bancroft Library, Berkeley – UC Berkeley: Bancroft Library by wallyg

  • Cheekius Geekus

    “605 signed fine prints”, wow. Not the kind of investigative work one normally associates with Dance professors. :)

  • joanna3uk

    Wow! What a find!


    The photo book “Fiat lux: the University of California” by Ansel Adams & Nancy Newhall is a beautiful book from about 1967 or so. It has recently been reissued. The book’s title is Latin for “let there be light”

  • archivesenthusiast

    These great works have been cared for for years by the UC libraries and available to any researcher who might be interested in them. Thanks to researchers like Catherine Cole, great materials like these housed in libraries and archives can be examined and brought out in a new light! Let there be light, support libraries and archives so they can help make these treasures available to researchers and the public on into the future!

  • newamericanclassic

    The bancroft library has an ENORMOUS collection–I even found pictures of the founding members of a small campus organization I’m in, dating back like 70 years. crazy stuff.

  • Jim


  • Louise Red Corn

    I don’t know how security is at Berkeley libraries now, but when I worked and studied there, security was a joke that I amply evaded. Hope it has improved!