Butler Center for Arkansas Studies 100 Rock Street Little Rock, Arkansas, 72201 (501) 320-5700
This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit
Butler Center for Arkansas Studies
Harding, Thomas, III, 1911-2002
Thomas Harding photography collection
34.5 Linear feet
This collection contains negatives, diapositives, proofs, and prints accumulated principally during the period after Harding's 1981 retirement when he pursued art photography. His creative process can be followed from notes made on envelopes and sleeves used to store the images, as well as in more formal records contained in the documents series. The collection includes photographs and negatives of the Arkansas schoolhouses and outhouses which Harding photographed for his two published books, as well as other rural Arkansas scenes. In addition, the collection contains numerous still lifes and images taken during trips to the West. A series of glass negatives contains historic family photographs.
This collection contains documents (Series I), images (Series II and III) and photographic ephemera (Series IV). The images are arranged principally according to the type of image, that is, transparency or print. The transparencies (Series II) are further divided into plastic transparencies (Subseries I), glass negatives (Subseries II) and slides (Subseries III). The photographer's original order was largely maintained in processing Subseries I. While it consists mostly of negatives, diapositives and contact prints are included when the photographer had stored them in with the negatives. The prints (Series III) are divided into those that had been matted to prepare for exhibit or sale (Subseries I) and those that were loose prints (Subseries II).Numbers in parentheses were assigned by the photographer. The use of brackets indicates information obtained from research and added by the processor.
Scope and Contents
This collection contains negatives, diapositives, proofs, and prints accumulated principally during the period after Harding's retirement when he pursued art photography. The envelopes and sleeves Harding used to store the images were retained as often as possible in order to preserve the photographer's notes they contained. If the original container had to be replaced, his notes were copied and those copies retained in a folder at the end of the appropriate box.
The collection includes photographs and negatives of the Arkansas schoolhouses and outhouses Harding photographed for his two published books, as well as other rural Arkansas scenes. A series of glass negatives contains historic family photographs, dating mostly from the 1920s. Several images date from the time Harding served in Italy during World War II.
Numbers in parenthesis throughout the finding aid represent numbers assigned by Harding. Information in brackets was added by the processor.
A small documents series contains additional information about the process of obtaining and developing of the images as well as of the sale of prints.
The initial seven boxes in the series of transparencies were left in their original order and represent the core of the collection. They provide a key to the items throughout the collection.
The final series in the collection contains cameras, including both purchased cameras and pinhole cameras constructed by the photographer. In addition, the series contains many of the tools used in working with pinhole photography, including measuring devices, gold leaf and needles.
Harding is often referred to in the finding aid simply as "the photographer." He was the third in four generations who carried the name Thomas Harding. Where needed for clarity, the suffixes I, II, III and IV have been used for each person.
Thomas Harding III was born July 7, 1911, to Thomas Harding II and his wife Mary Rice. As the son and grandson of prominent Little Rock architects, he initially pursued a degree in architecture at Washington University in St. Louis. After two years, he returned to Little Rock and worked in his father's firm. During this time, he developed an interest in photography.
Although Harding had no professional photography experience, he served as the personal photographer of General Ira Eaker at the Allied Headquarters in Italy during World War II. This work prepared him to open a wedding and portraiture studio after he returned to Little Rock following the end of the war. During the next twenty years he photographed many famous Arkansans, including governors and the social elite. Harding married Helen Hoshall from Memphis, Tennessee, on February 26, 1944. The couple had one child.
Harding worked for a time at the well-known Bachrach Studios in New York. Although this experience expanded his knowledge and skills, Harding wanted the freedom to develop his own creative approach. He, therefore, returned to Little Rock in 1970 and again opened a studio. He worked in both commercial and portrait photography for more than a decade.
Following his retirement in 1981, Harding continued to work in art photography, experimenting extensively with pinhole photography. His work was published in the 1993 book
One-Room Schoolhouses of Arkansas as Seen Through a Pinhole. Another book, published in 1999, took a similar look at outhouses from throughout the state. Harding constructed most of his own pinhole cameras.
Harding died August 4, 2002.
This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Architecture -- Arkansas -- Little Rock.
Eaker, Ira, 1896-1987
Harding, Thomas, III, 1911-2002
Little Rock (Ark.)
Outhouses -- Arkansas -- Pictorial works.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Photography.
Restrictions on Access
Unrestricted access except for Series II, Subseries II. These glass negatives are FRAGILE. Special permission is required to access them.
Restrictions on Use
Non-circulating, in-house use only
NOTE: The Butler Center cannot give permission to copy or publish an image, as copyright to all images in the collection belongs to the donor.
Thomas Harding Photography Collection, MSS.10.46, Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, Arkansas Studies Institute