Kodak Archives

The Kodak Magazine - Aug. 1920

Eastman Kodak has a long history in both Rochester and the rest of the world. They maintained a library and archives here in Rochester that no one I know of has ever seen.  As Kodak is going through a bankruptcy, I wondered what would happen to Kodak archival materials. After some digging, I found that Kodak had already found a home for their collections. This article in the New York Times from last month noted that Kodak had a collection of photos by famous photographers and pictures shot by employees. As most people in this area know, Kodak also hosted in-house camera clubs that hosted picture contests. There is a link in that article in the Times that shows some of the items in the Kodak archives including an article in an employee magazine highlighting photos by 66 female employees. The Times also noted that the archives had been donated to he Rush Rhees Library at the University of Rochester. Kodak first donated a collection of material to the Library in 2004 and then added a larger collection in 2006  and has added small sets since then. The Kodak collection is comprised of documents, photographs and publications. Parts of the collection are:

  1. History of Photography Collection of books and serials.
  2. Kodak Historical Collection of books, serials, and other materials actually published by the Eastman Kodak Company.
  3. Kodak Speeches: a searchable database of the speeches.

There are still parts of the collection to be processed including Kodak Research Laboratories historical materials. The collection is housed in the Rare Books, Special Collections & Preservation Department in the Rush Rhees Library. This web page gives more details on the collection and how to access the collection. Plus this web page has a video from WXXI-TV which gives a report on the Kodak collection at U of R.

The Rare Book Dept. already had this collection on George Eastman that the library has had since 1976. This has personal items related to Mr. Eastman including correspondence, 4,000 personal photos including members of his family, family genealogy files and many other personal items.

Kodak has been routinely donated film, cameras and other photographic items to the International Museum of Photography here in Rochester. This web page describes their collections which includes everything from 3,500 early Daguerreotypes to a motion picture film vault.

In 2005, Kodak Canada donated its entire historic company archives to Ryerson University Library in Toronto. The Kodak archives, begun in 1909, contain the company’s camera collection, historic photos, files, trade circulars, Kodak magazines, price lists, daily record books, equipment, and other items. It also includes the contents of the Kodak Heritage Collection Museum, a museum established in 1999 for Kodak Canada’s centennial that Kodak closed in 2005. This web page gives an extensive overview of the Kodak Canada collection.

In 1985, Kodak Ltd. (UK) closed their museum at Harrow which had opened in 1927 and donated the entire collection to the Science Museum. It now forms the key photographic portion of the National Media Museum in Bradford, UK.

Kodak in 2009 donated the company archives to the British Library. That archival material came from the Kodak’s British corporate headquarters and the company’s European Research Centre which was established at Harrow in 1928. The collection which dates from 1885 includes business documents, contracts, production records, marketing material and photographs charting the development of photography.

It appears that Kodak has made sure that their libraries and archives have been preserved for future generations.