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About Paul Vanderbilt

Tree in rain
Tree in rain

Paul Vanderbilt (1905-1992) served as Wisconsin Historical Society curator of visual materials and field photographer from 1954-1972. He was primarily responsible for building and organizing the Society’s world-renowned photograph collection. Vanderbilt received a degree in art history from Harvard University in 1927 and intended to pursue a career as a museum art curator, but photography caught his attention and became his love. After an early career working with Farm Security Administration photographs taken during the Great Depression, he came to the Historical Society to organize and build its collections. Paul Vanderbilt was an extraordinary artist who brought a poetic, psychological, and philosophical perspective to his interpretation of images and his work as a photographer. His work successfully captures the subtleties of light and shadow to reveal the textures of ground, foliage and buildings, and the visual patterns of the landscape to create stunning images of Wisconsin.

Books by Paul Vanderbilt

  • Vanderbilt, Paul. Between the landscape and its other (Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, c1993).
  • Vanderbilt, Paul. Filing your photographs : some basic procedures (Nashville : American Association for State and Local History, 1966).
  • Library of Congress. Reference Dept. Guide to the special collections of prints & photographs in the Library of Congress / compiled by Paul Vanderbilt (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1955).
  • Vanderbilt, Paul. Paul Vanderbilt / editors : Jerry Dell and Sheri Frederickson (Midwest Region of the Society for Photographic Education, 1984).



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