Profile profile for perichs

Shannon Thomas Perich


M.A., Museum Studies, George Washington University, 1996 B.F.A, Art (emphasis on photography), University of Arizona, 1993 B.A., Art History, University of Arizona, 1993

The Photographic History Collection (PHC) is the first collection of photography in a US museum dedicated to the history of the medium. It was founded as its own collecting section in the summer of 1896.  The PHC is an international collection with nearly 250,000 photographs, photographic objects, ephemera, apparatus and equipment.

I've worked in PHC for more than two decades and have a deep knowledge of the collection and the potentail research topics and histories yet to be told. I'm interested in photography, especially where individual stories and national narratives intersect and photography plays a role in make that dynamic visible.  The Learning Lab hosts a continously growing collection of objects from PHC as they become visible on line. See also for specific searches.


Research Specialties: 

History of photography from daguerreotype to digital, in particular, research interests include vernacular and snapshot photograph, visual culture, ambrotypes, Richard Avedon, history of the collection.

Interested in digital humanities and uses of photography to see history in new ways.


Current Projects:
Project Director, Stories of 2020, a multi-lingual digital story gathering initiative to gather individual histories to be collected for future researchers.

Current collecting initiatives center around women photographers, LatinX photography, Covid-19-related photography

  • Exhibition: Honky Tonk photographs by Henry Horenstein, 1972–1982 (opening spring 2005). Photography exhibition featuring the work of Henry Horenstein's look at country music. Photographs include country music icons, but also the relationship between fans and performers and the venues where they meet.
  • Research: The Famous Photographer's School, a international correspondence school from the mid 1960s-the mid 1970s.

Past Projects:

  • Image Manager, September 11th, Bearing Witness to History, September 2002–March 2003. Located images and secured rights, and arranged for portraiture for the exhibition marking the one-year anniversary, focusing on the ways history is witnessed and recorded.
  • Image Assistant, The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden, opened 2001. Located and secured rights for presidential portraits, and images on the time line for exhibition about the presidency.
  • Curator, Santo Pinholé: A Saint for Photography, March–October 1999. Showcase that deconstructed painting by Liz Kay that suggested Ansel Adams is treated as a modern day saint in the world of photography.
  • Co-Curator, Visual Journey: Photographs by Lisa Law, 1964-1971, October 1998–April 1999. Photographic exhibition that explored the counter-culture movement in the sixties through one woman’s photographs, from San Francisco love-ins to New Mexico communes.
  • Co-Curator, Who Invented the Environment?, September 1998–October 1999. Exhibition for Lemelson Center, exploring the use of photography to promote national definitions of environment.
  • Project Management Assistant, A Taxonomy of Images, October 1996–March 1997. Photographic exhibition organized by International Center for Photography, that utilized the Museum's Science Service Collection.


The Kennedys: Portrait of a Family, with Richard Avedon. New York: CollinsDesign, 2007.

No family has captured the fascination of the American public like the Kennedys. In 1961, acclaimed photographer Richard Avedon of Harper’s Bazaar magazine photographed president-elect John F. Kennedy and his young family. This study showcases a selection of previously unpublished images from the historic photo session. Avedon donated more than 200 photographs and negatives to the Museum in 1966, complementing the Museum’s 1962 acquisition of Jackie Kennedy’s inaugural gown.

“Coming into Focus,” Footsteps, January/February (2005) vol. 7, no.1, pp. 37–41.

Illustrated article about how daguerreotypes are made, and mentions African-American daguerreotypist Augustus Washington. Footsteps is a children’s magazine about African American history, this particular issue focuses on African American inventors.

“Frith’s Fabulous Photography,” DIG November/December (2004), vol. 6, no. 9, pp. 26–27.

Illustrated article about how Englishman Francis Frith made and sold photographs of Egypt’s historic relics and sites in the 1860s. DIG is a children’s archeology magazine.

“Things Panoramic,” Panorama, November (2003).

Illustrated article about panorama cameras and photographs in the Photographic History Collection.

“Process and 3-D Materials, National Museum of American History,” History of Photography, vol. 24, no. 1, Spring (2000), pp. 37–41.

Discusses photographs and equipment in the Photographic History Collection related to process and 3-D photography, especially as it connects to advertising and photojournalism, from 1840s-1960s.

“Local Photographers in the National Collection,” with Michelle Delaney in History of Photography Journal, vol. 24, no. 1, Spring (2000), pp. 63–64.