Arthur D. Chapman photograph collection
Language of Materials
Collection of sixty photographs by Arthur D. Chapman featuring compositions of pictorial interest in his everyday surroundings in New York, and particularly in Greenwich Village. Two self-portraits are also included.
Arthur D. Chapman (1882-1956) was born in Bakersfield, California. An amateur photographer, he moved to New York and worked as a printer for The Globe and Commercial Advertiser and The New York American; he also listed himself in the New York City directories as a bookbinder (1913) and a photographer (1917). Chapman lived in Greenwich Village from 1911 until 1917 and, in his afternoons off from work, photographed everyday scenes around Manhattan. In his own neighborhood, he chose to show not the Bohemian image the Village then projected, but rather what the residential Village looked like. With the use of shadow, Chapman was able to give depth and character to his photographs, and those focused down a street usually featured a striking foreground. His subjects include rooftops, buildings, and street scenes with such titles as "9½ Jane Street," "Clinton Court," and "Kelly's Alley." Most of the photographs are from the 1910s and show a quaint side of the Village that has all but vanished.
During the early 1950s Chapman thought it would be of historical interest to re-shoot some of the areas in Manhattan he had photographed almost a half-century before, in order to document how time had changed those places. Unfortunately, some of the scenes he wanted to photograph were still considered too "sensitive" so soon after the Second World War, and he was unable to obtain permission from the city government.
The New-York Historical Society bought this collection from Chapman between 1950 and 1955 as he, in his retirement, found and printed from old negatives which had lain hidden in his extensive collection. In 1953, Chapman gave two self-portraits to the Society as a gift, one taken in New York in 1913 and the second taken in 1953 in New Jersey. Both show him working with his photographic equipment.
In 1921, following his World War I service in France with the Photographic Section of the Army Signal Corp Chapman moved to New Jersey, where he continued with his "hobby" until his death on June 5, 1956. He was a member of Pictorial Photographers of America, and a member of New York Typographical Union No. 6 for over fifty years.
This collection is organized in four series:
Series I. Self Portraits
Series II. Lower Manhattan Scenes
Series III. Greenwich Village Scenes
Series IV. Miscellaneous Manhattan Scenes
Scope and Contents
The Arthur D. Chapman photograph collection includes sixty black and white photographs printed by Chapman in the early 1950s from glass plate negatives he made between 1908 to 1922. One additional image, a self-portrait, was made in 1953. The collection documents New York City and Greenwich Village in particular. Each photograph was signed and dated by Chapman. The image titles given are those he assigned and are transcribed from labels he applied to the verso of each mounting board. The collection is divided into four series: I. Self Portraits; II. Lower Manhattan Scenes; III. Greenwich Village Scenes; IV. Miscellaneous Manhattan Scenes.
Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit www.nyhistory.org/library/visit.
Taking images of documents from the library collections for reference purposes by using hand-held cameras and in accordance with the library's photography guidelines is encouraged. As an alternative, patrons may request up to 20 images per day from staff.
Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to: Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, email@example.com. Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282.
Copyrights and other proprietary rights may subsist in individuals and entities other than the New-York Historical Society, in which case the patron is responsible for securing permission from those parties. For fuller information about rights and reproductions from N-YHS visit: https://www.nyhistory.org/about/rights-reproductions
This collection should be cited as Arthur D. Chapman Photograph Collection, PR 15, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society.
Location of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The New-York Historical Society purchased fifty-eight photographs from Chapman between 1950 and 1955. Two self-portraits were gifts of the photographer in 1953.