Library of Congress Awards National Stereoscopic Association Research Fellowships
The Library of Congress announced Meg Hankel, Eric Kurland, and Melody Davis as its first class of fellows awarded the National Stereoscopic Association Research Fellowship today.
Established in 2022 with a generous monetary donation from the National Stereoscopic Association, the fellowship supports research on stereoscopy and the history of photography within the Prints and Photographs Division holdings and the unparalleled photographic history collections at the Library of Congress — including over 15 million photographs, rare publications, manuscript materials and historic newspapers.
Stereographs are paired photographs that provide an illusion of three-dimensionality when placed in a special viewer called a stereoscope. They were among the first photographic entertainment formats that became popular from the Civil War to the early decades of the 20th century when new technologies like motion pictures captured the public’s attention. Recent technical innovations, including virtual reality, have brought renewed focus to both the history and continued use of the stereo format.
The Library’s Prints and Photographs Division is the premier research center for photographs in this format, holding stereographs dating from early daguerreotypes in the 1850s to published sets from the 1930s. Almost 50,000 have been digitized and are available online at https://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/stereo/.
National Stereoscopic Association Research Fellows
Meg Hankel, a Ph.D. candidate in the history of art at Bryn Mawr College was awarded $1,000 to conduct research at the Library in March 2023 for “Expanding Borders: Nation-building, Colonialism, and the 3-D Image in the Nineteenth Century,” the second chapter of her dissertation, “The Magic of 3-D: A History of Stereoscopy in Art and Visual Culture,” examining the legacy of stereoscopic images in popular media and artistic practice. Hankel will look at the Prints and Photographs Division’s holdings of stereographs from the four major geologic surveys of the American West during the 1870s to investigate how the three-dimensional image served the purpose of nation-building.
Eric Kurland, a stereographic filmmaker and founder of 3-D SPACE: The Center for Stereoscopic Photography, Art, Cinema, and Education, was awarded $4,000 to study the relationship between commercial stereographs and motion pictures between 1900 and 1935. While at the Library in late-April and early-May, 2023, he will look at sequences of stereographic cards submitted for copyright registration by the Exhibit Supply Company of Chicago, a producer of images for coin-operated penny arcade stereoscopes. By the 1920s, the company operated a photography studio in Hollywood, California, that focused on silent film era actors and comedians. Kurland will conduct additional research in the Library’s Moving Image Research Center on related motion picture films.
Melody Davis, professor of art history at Russell Sage College, was awarded $4,000 for “Racialized Performance in Narrative Stereoviews of the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries,” an analysis of depictions of race in the history of narrative stereography between 1860 and 1910. Her work will explore stereoscopic tropes, such as blackface minstrelsy, food as a racialized subject, and notions of the body as a “part object,” where specific body parts become focal points of caricature and stereotyping. During her fellowship in June 2023, Davis will also examine the Library’s holdings of sheet music illustrations, ephemera, cartoons, advertisements, and trade cards to locate additional iterations of this subject matter.
The National Stereoscopic Association Research Fellowship is awarded annually by the Library. Additional information about the fellowship is available at this link: https://www.loc.gov/rr/print/national_stereoscopic.html.
About the Library
The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States — and extensive materials from around the world — both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov; access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov; and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.