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Douglas R. Gilbert papers

Identifier: RHC-183

Scope and Contents

Collection contains photographic negatives, color transparencies, slides, personal papers, ephemera, publications, and artifacts documenting the careeer of photographer Douglas R. Gilbert, spanning from 1958 to 2018. Negatives are primarily in 35mm black and white and 4"x5" color formats, and are typically accompanied by contact sheets. Personal papers include correspondence and gallery files, photo project files, and publications featuring Gilbert's photographs. A small number of artifacts include Gilbert's canvas camera bag and leather portfolio case.

Notable photo projects documented within the negatives and photography project files include series on Bob Dylan, the Newport Folk Festival, Janis Ian, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, C.S. Lewis, Flannery O'Connor, the New York Financial District, Italian light studies, gardens and landscapes of the rural Midwest.


  • 1868 - 2018
  • Majority of material found within 1958 - 2018


Access to Materials

Collection is open for research use. Materials may be accessed by request at Special Collections and University Archives in Seidman House. Materials do not circulate.

Publication Rights

The collection is the physical property of Grand Valley State University, but all publication rights are retained by the original creators of materials, their estates, heirs, or third parties. It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure appropriate permissions for publication beyond the bounds of fair use.

Biographical Note

Douglas R. Gilbert (b. 1942) is an American photographer from Michigan. He was born in Holland, Michigan and is the son of Russell W. and Carmen (Andree) Gilbert. Gilbert earned a B.A. in social sciences and art at Michigan State University in 1964, an M.S. in photography from the Institute of Design at Illinois Institute of Technology in 1972, and a M.S.W. from Salem State College in 1993. He is married to Barbara (McDonald) Gilbert, and has three daughters, Robyn, Rachel, and Anne.

Gilbert took a serious interest in photography at the age of fourteen. In 1963 he joined the staff of Look magazine in New York as the second youngest photojournalist in the magazine's history. As a Look photographer from 1964 to 1966, he photographed folk musician Bob Dylan, the Newport Folk Festival, Simon and Garfunkel, the New York City Financial District, and the children and facilities at the Manhattan School for Seriously Disturbed Children. From 1967 to 1969, Gilbert did several notable shoots including folk singer Janis Ian for Life magazine. After moving to Chicago, Illinois in 1969 to attend the Illinois Institute of Technology, Gilbert conducted notable photo shoots of business and political figure Lenore Romney, and pursued more personal and artistic photography, focusing on urban and rural landscapes in Illinois and Michigan. He then joined the faculty of Wheaton College, where he taught from 1972 to 1982. From the late 1960s to the mid 1980s, Gilbert also published several photography books, including The Steps of Bonhoeffer: A Pictorial Album, C.S. Lewis: Images of his World, and Flannery O'Connor: Images of Grace. In 1993, Gilbert graduated from Salem State College, Massachusetts, with a Masters in Social Work, and later pursued a second career as a psychotherapist. In 2005, Gilbert published Forever Young: Photographs of Bob Dylan.

Throughout his photography career, he pursued both freelance commercial work as well as artistic work. His art photography is characterized by its classic black-and-white format, and features people, places and objects shot with great attention and sensitivity. Gilbert's works are held in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, and the Grand Valley State University Art Galleries, as well as in numerous private and institutional collections.


46.61 Linear feet (88 boxes, 6 flat boxes, 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials


Guide to the Douglas R. Gilbert Papers
Annie Benefiel
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Grand Valley State University Special Collections and University Archives Repository

Seidman House
1 Campus Drive
Allendale MI 49401 United States