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Nation’s Business Photograph Collection

Identifier: P006

Scope and Contents

Photographs in this collection are images of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area (D.C., Maryland and Virginia suburbs) from the photo morgue of Nation’s Business, a publication of the United States Chamber of Commerce. The collection provides visual documentation of the District’s well-known federal and commercial architecture, scenes from the Kennedy and Truman administrations, and other images from events and life in Washington, D.C. from the 1920s to the 1980s.

Included in the collection are a unique selection of candid photographs depicting 1920s passengers on streetcars and images taken by photographers Robert Phillips and Jacques Lowe during the first six months of President John F. Kennedy’s administration.

The collection consists of 333 black and white gelatin silver prints arranged alphabetically into 41 subject headings with dates. Headings are for the most part of building names (Union Station), types (Gasoline Stations), subjects (Pedestrians), locations (Glen Echo, MD), or specific events (U.S. Chamber of Commerce-Meetings-1951). The majority of the photographic images are by contract photographers. Many photographs have hand-written notations indicating when the image was published.


  • Creation: 1910 - 1981

Conditions Governing Use

The Library does not have the reproduction rights or any additional photographer information available to determine copyright status. It is therefore the user’s responsibility to determine the copyright status and to obtain appropriate permission to reproduce. Any use of photographs from this collection must include the following credit line: Nation’s Business Photograph Collection, Washingtoniana Collection, D.C. Public Library. Photographs in this collection were taken by a wide variety of news photo agencies, government agencies, as well as free-lance photographers.

Biographical / Historical

Nation’s Business was a periodical published monthly by the United States Chamber of Commerce. Volume 1, Number 1 premiered on September 2, 1912 with the creed to “set forth periodically affirmative information and thought regarding our progress as a nation” (see Appendix). Publication ceased in June of 1999 with Volume 87, Number 6 when publisher Robert J. Perkins declared “the U.S. Chamber is moving full speed into the age of the Internet, expanding its online services and exploring new communication vehicles”


1.25 Linear feet (4 boxes, 2 document storage and 2 flat boxes)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

The complete photo morgue was donated in 1993 by Frances Borchardt of Nation’s Business and accepted by Mary Ternes on behalf of the Library. The materials are copies of original photos housed at the Hagley Museum in Wilmington, Delaware. There were transparencies with the collection, however, these materials were not duplicated because of their need for conservation. They are housed with the remainder of the original photographs at the Hagley Museum.

Related Materials

The complete 87-year run of Nation’s Business on microfilm, located in The People's Archive reading room.

Theodore Horydczak Photograph Collection, P005.

Processing Information

Basic archival procedures were used at the time of processing. Robert A. Truax, a Library volunteer, separated the Washington, D.C. and metropolitan area photographs from the larger Nation’s Business collection. Most photographs are labeled on the reverse with various original subject headings. Some subject headings were maintained because of their specificity (i.e. “War on Poverty”) while others were created to organize the materials for easier access (i.e. an image of a mail man originally filed under “Character Studies-Men & Group Workers” is now found under “Post Office”). Specific dates or range of dates were added to each subject heading to further aid in identification and access.

The collection consists primarily of 8x10 inch black and white gelatin silver prints. A small fraction of color print material is also included.

Nation's Business Photograph Collection
Washington, DC and Metropolitan Area Photographs from Nation’s Business Photographic Archives
Guide Created by Jerry A. McCoy
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Edition statement
Guide revised in 2024

Revision Statements

  • 2021-08-20: Updated top level data and subjects.
  • 2024-02-28: Added additional photographs recently rediscovered and updated box and folder information

Repository Details

Part of the The People's Archive, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library Repository

901 G Street NW
4th Floor East
Washington DC 20001