Melbourne Spurr photograph collection

RIT/NTID Deaf Studies Archive

Table of Contents

Collection Overview
Biographical Information for Melbourne Spurr
Scope and Content
Subject Headings
Information for Researchers
Administrative Information
Other Descriptive Data

Collection Overview (Collapse)

Melbourne Spurr photographs
Creator - Photographer
Spurr, Melbourne
Inclusive Date(s)
The Melbourne Spurr photographs contains five black-and-white portraits taken by deaf photographer Melbourne Spurr in the 1920's. The subjects are five American silent film actresses from that time period. The collection also includes three postcards featuring Melbourne Spurr's portraits used to advertise an exhibition of his works held in Rochester, NY in 2009.
5.0 Photographs (1 folder)
General Physical Description note
This collection consists of one folder. It is housed in a box with another collection.
C.S. North, Shelf 231
RIT Archive Collections
RIT Libraries
Wallace Center
90 Lomb Memorial Drive
Rochester, New York, 14623
(585) 475-2557

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Biographical Information for Melbourne Spurr (Collapse)

Melbourne Spurr arrived in Hollywood around 1917 and worked for the noted photographer Fred Hartsook, taking portraits of the early stars. Spurr photographed Mary Pickford while working at the Hartsook studio and so impressed her that she personally helped launch his career as a Hollywood portrait photographer. By the mid 1920s he was one of the premier celebrity portraitists in the world.

By this time, though, the major movie studios were mandating that their stars could only be photographed by their own photographers. Spurr chose to keep his own studio, and was eventually shut out in favor of men like George Hurrell, Clarence Sinclair Bull, Eugene Robert Richee and others who worked for the big motion picture studios. Spurr shined in Hollywood for one glorious decade - the "Roaring 20s" - but then moved on to photographing other notables like US presidents, artists, authors and dancers.

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Scope and Content (Collapse)

The Melbourne Spurr photographs contains five 8 x 10 inch black-and-white portraits, each with the photographers stamp. Hand-written on the back of each photograph is the subjects name.

  1. Edna Murphy
  2. Marian Nixon
  3. Helene Chadwick
  4. Mary McAlister
  5. Wanda Wiley
  6. Image of Melbourne Spurr studio

Also contained in this collection are three postcards featuring reproductions of portraits by Melbourne Spurr.

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Arrangement (Collapse)

The collection is arranged by material type.

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Subject Headings (Collapse)

Personal Name(s)

  • Spurr, Melbourne
  • Chadwick, Helene, -- Portraits
  • McAlister, Mary, 1909-1991, -- Portraits
  • Murphy, Edna, 1899-1974, -- Portraits
  • Nixon, Marian, 1904-1983, -- Portraits
  • Wiley, Wanda, 1901-1988, -- Portraits


  • Motion picture actors and actresses -- California -- Portraits
  • Portrait photography -- California


  • Black-and-white prints (photographs)
  • Studio portraits

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Information for Researchers (Collapse)

Preferred Citation

Melbourne Spurr photographs, RIT/NTID Deaf Studies Archive

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open to researchers.

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Administrative Information (Collapse)

Collection ID


Accession Information

Accession number(s): 2011:007; 2011:097

Source of Acquisition

5 photographs purchased by Joan Naturale, NTID Librarian in 2011. 2011:097 was donated by Kenneth Kelbaugh in 2011.

Processing Information

Finding aid created by Jody Sidlauskas in August 2011.

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Other Descriptive Data (Collapse)

"Melbourne Spurr" is embossed on the lower right corner of each photoprint. Stamped in ink on back of photoprint: CREDIT Melbourne Spurr, photographer, Los Angeles, CAL.

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