Profile profile for haberstichd

David E. Haberstich

Curator of Photography

M.L.A., The Johns Hopkins University, 1970;  B.F.A., Rochester Institute of Technology, 1963; graduate work in art history, Indiana University.

Research Specialties: 

History of photographic art and technology, documentary photography, and twentieth-century art; management of photographic collections.

Role in Museum: 
  • Coordinator, NMAH Tuesday Colloquium.
  • SIRIS Coordinator and SIRIS Blog Coordinator, Archives Center.

Current Projects:

  • Research on: Scurlock Studio photographs; stereoscopic photographs; and the Sickles Photo-Reporting Archive.
  • Curator for architecture classroom materials, NMAH.

Past Projects:

  • Curator and designer, “Gift of the Artist: Photographers as Donors,” Archives Center exhibition area, NMAH, 2011.
  • Exhibition curator, Serving Home and Community / Women of Southern Appalachia / Photographs by Barbara Beirne; Hidden Americans: Photographs of Gypsies by Carlos de Wendler-Funaro; Silver and Silk.
  • Co-curator, The Scurlock Collection (Recent Acquisitions/History in the News exhibit), July–October 1998.
  • Organizer and host, Oracle international meeting of photography curators, Washington, 1999; consultant for Oracle meeting in Goa, India, 2003.
Awards, Honors, and Special Recognition: 

Chair-Elect, Visual Materials Section, Society of American Archivists, 2012-2013; Chair, 2014-2014.

Appointed to advisory board, Instituto Superiore per la Storia della Fotografia, Palermo, Italy, 2002.

Smithsonian Research Resources Program grant to implement freezer storage and cataloguing of deteriorating Scurlock Studio Collection acetate negatives, 1998–1999.  Two Smithsonian Research Resources Program grants (with John Fleckner) from Smithsonian Institution Research Resources Program to prepare a videodisc and database for the Underwood & Underwood Glass Stereograph Collection, 1989, 1991.

Consultant, Art and Architecture Thesaurus, Getty Art History Information Program, 1988 (photographic nomenclature and hierarchies).

    Professional Affiliations: 
    • Society of American Archivists
    • Society for Photographic Education
    • European Society for the History of Photography
    • Scottish Society for the History of Photography
    • National Stereoscopic Association
    • American Institute for Conservation
    • College Art Association


    "The Scurlock Studio: A Biography," (with Donna M. Wells), Picturing the Promise: The Scurlock Studio and Black Washington.  Washington, D.C.: National Museum of African American History and Culture in collaboration with the National Museum of American history, 2009, pp. 196-212.

    A history of the Scurlock family studio and its significance for the African American community of Washington.

    “Automatic Photobooths in Context(s),” foreword in Nakki Goranin, American Photobooth.   New York:  W.W. Norton & Co., Feb. 2008, pp. 9-13.

    A psychological and cultural meditation about the unique experience of photobooth photographs, with notes about the NMAH Hall of Photography’s photobooth.

    “Barbara Beirne’s Women of Southern Appalachia,” Now and Then (The Center for Appalachian Studies and Services, East Tennessee State University), Summer 1997, pp. 3–7.

    A description of Barbara Beirne's aims in interviewing and photographing a number of energetic, courageous Appalachian women and how these documents highlight important aspects of Appalachian cultural, social, and economic history.

    “American Photographs in Europe and Illusions of Travel,” American Photographs in Europe, ed. by David Nye and Mick Gidley. Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, Amsterdam: VU University Press, 1994, pp. 57–75.

    A discussion of the interrelationship of stereograph publisher Underwood & Underwood's European sales activities and its stereoscopic documentation of Europe for both the American and European markets.

    “Betty Hahn: The Early Years,” essay in Betty Hahn: Photography or Maybe Not, Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1995.

    This essay describes the influence of Hahn's graduate school photography professor, Henry Holmes Smith, on her early work, including her revival of "obsolete" photographic processes such as gum-bichromate. Her technical and aesthetic experiments are described.

    “The Archives Center and Photography: National Museum of American History,” History of Photography, Spring 2000 (Vol. 24, No. 1), p. 49.

    A description of the Archives Center's photographic collections, policies, and programs, with emphasis on major recent acquisitions, such as the Scurlock Studio Records.

    “The Scurlock Ninety-Year Project: Black Washington in Black America,” Exposure, vol. 32:1 (1999), pp. 64–73.

    A summary of the history of the Scurlock Studio and a description of the the Museum's Scurlock collection, with remarks about conservation challenges, especially regarding deteriorating acetate negatives.

    “Wayward Wife as Muse: Anais Nin and Ian Hugo,” in Anais Nin: A Book of Mirrors, ed. by Paul Herron. Huntington Woods, Mich.: Sky Blue Press, 1996, pp. 44–57.

    A critical appraisal of the influence of diarist and surrealist Anais Nin on the films of her husband Ian Hugo. Nin served as muse, model, actress, and collaborator in inspiring Hugo to become a creative artist.

    “Souvenirs of Roads Not Taken: Virtual Travel with the Underwood & Underwood Travel System and the World Wide Web,” in Culture as the Tourist Product, ed. by Mike Robinson, Nigel Evans, and Paul Callaghan. Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, 1996, pp. 131–139.

    The text of a paper delivered at a conference on tourism details the ways in which commercially published stereographs were used to simulate travel experiences, 1895-1921.

    “Labyrinthine Walk: A Guide for Politically Incorrect Tourists,” in Culture as the Tourist Product, ed. by Mike Robinson, Nigel Evans, and Paul Callaghan. Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, 1996, pp. 141–157.

    The text of a paper delivered at a conference on tourism analyzes the goals of tourists when visiting museums as part of a sight-seeing ritual.