A Guide to the Holsinger Studio Collection, ca. 1890-1938 Holsinger Studio Collection 9862

A Guide to the Holsinger Studio Collection, ca. 1890-1938

A Collection in
The Special Collections Department
Accession Number 9862


Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library

Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, Virginia 22904-4110
Phone: (434) 243-1776
Fax: (434) 924-4968
Reference Request Form: https://small.lib.virginia.edu/reference-request/
URL: http://small.library.virginia.edu/

© 2002 By the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. All rights reserved.

Funding: Web version of the finding aid funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Processed by: Special Collections Department

Special Collections, University of Virginia Library
Accession number
Holsinger Studio Collection, ca. 1890-1938
Physical Characteristics
ca. 8,900 glass plate negatives

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

Reproduction restrictions. Contact Special Collections Department for terms.

Preferred Citation

Holsinger Studio Collection, Accession #9862, Special Collections Dept., University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.

Acquisition Information

The Holsinger Studio Collection was placed in the Special Collections Department of the University of Virginia Library in 1973-1974 through a grant from the University's Rotunda Restoration Committee, whose primary interest was to locate negatives that would aid the reconstruction of the Rotunda.The collection was purchased in 1978 through generous contributions made by the University of Virginia Alumni Association and an anonymous donor.

Alternative Form

The photographic negatives are available as digital images, online at https://search.lib.virginia.edu/search

Biographical/Historical Information

Rufus W. Holsinger came to Charlottesville from Pennsylvania by way of Manassas in the late 1880's, to establish a photographic business. His "University Studio" at 719-721 West Main soon became the leading studio in town, with a reputation for first-quality work. Holsinger himself served at various times as president and treasurer of the Photographic Association of Virginia and the Carolinas, and as treasurer of the Photographer's Association of America. He was a long-time member of the Charlottesville City Council, president of the Chamber of Commerce, and an organizer and director of the National Bank of Charlottesville. After his death in 1930, the studio was owned and operated by his son, Ralph W. Holsinger, Jr., who moved the studio in 1935 to 908 West Main. Upon the Ralph Holsinger's retirement in 1969, the studio passed from the hands of the Holsinger family, and the business ceased operation in 1977.

Scope and Content Information

The Holsinger Studio Collection constitutes a unique photographic record of life in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Virginia, from before the turn of the century through World War I. The collection consists of approximately 8,900 dry-plate glass negatives and ledgers from the commercial studio of Rufus W. Holsinger. Approximately two-thirds of the collection are studio portraits, and among these are nearly 500 portraits of African-American citizens of Charlottesville and the surrounding area. Many of the portraits are unidentified, but some are of visiting celebrities and dignitaries. In 1915 while teaching art at the University of Virginia, Georgia O'Keeffe sat for a portrait with Mr. Holsinger.

The collection also include scenes and events from the community and from the University of Virginia. Perhaps the best-known views are those of the University Rotunda before, during, and after its burning in 1895, but many other events are depicted, including parades, fires, exhibitions, and train wrecks. Prints made fresh from the original negatives are models of clarity and detail. They give new life to times long past. A studio fire in 1912 destroyed the early business ledgers and some negatives. Those negatives surviving the fire range in size from 5x7 to 14x17 inches.