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Historic Photographs

Identifier: P-1880-001

Scope and Contents

The collection dates from 1880-2006 and includes photographs of the Phillips family, The Phillips Collection staff members, notable guests, museum exhibitions, museum buildings, and renovations. The collection includes original and reproduced photographic prints and negatives taken by amateur and professional photographers.


  • Creation: 1880 - 1999
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1920 - 1960

Conditions Governing Access

To access digitized folders please contact a member of the Library or Archival Staff. They will send you a PDF or JPG image in 2-3 business days.

Conditions Governing Use

This material is owned by The Phillips Collection.

Biographical / Historical

Duncan Phillips (b. 1886-1966) was the founder and director of The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. from 1921-1966. He was the son of Duncan Clinch Phillips and Eliza Laughlin Phillips. He attended Yale University with his older brother Jim Phillips and graduated in 1908. He married Marjorie Acker Phillips (b. 1894-1985) in 1921, they had two children. Their son Laughlin Phillips (b. 1924-2010) took over as director of the museum in 1972. Their daughter, Mary Marjorie Phillips (b. probably 1922) portrayed in Breakfast Room by Marjorie Acker Phillips, passed away at an unknown date. Duncan Phillips began collecting art with his brother in 1916. Duncan and Marjorie Phillips founded the museum as the Phillips Memorial Gallery in 1921 after the sudden deaths of Duncan's father and brother.

The building that houses The Phillips Collection museum was constructed in 1897 for Duncan Clinch Phillips and Eliza Laughlin Phillips as the family’s primary residence. It is located at 1600 21st St. NW, Washington, D.C. Since 1897 the building has undergone several renovations. The Music Room was added to the historic home in 1907. In 1920 the Main Gallery was added to the house, specially designed for displaying art. After the museum was founded in 1921 further renovations were completed in 1923 and 1924 to better accommodate the gallery. By 1930, the Phillips’s art collection had grown so much that the family moved out of the home in order to dedicate the entire house to the museum. An annex to the museum was built in 1960 and renovated during 1987-1989, and in 2002-2004. The annex provided an additional building with three stories of gallery space. The museum was expanded again with the addition of the Sant building in 2002-2006. The 2002-2006 rennovation provided more gallery space, office space, rooms for educational programs, and a library and archive.


3 Linear Feet (3 full legal boxes, 1 flat box)

Language of Materials



The Historic Photograph Collection has been arranged into 5 series. Series 1, 2, 4, and 5 have generally been arranged according to chronological order. Series 3 has generally been arranged by alphabetical order.

Historic Photographs 1880-1999
The Phillips Collection Library and Archives 1600 21st Street NW Washington D.C. 20009
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Phillips Collection Archives Repository

1600 21st St. NW
Washington DC 20009 United States