Skip to main content

A. Aubrey Bodine photograph collection

Identifier: B##


The collection of A. Aubrey Bodine photographs donated to the Peale Museum by Nancy Bodine in 1973 consists of more than 12,000 images. Of these, more than 4,500 are processed and available to the public. The images document virtually all aspects of life in Baltimore, Maryland and the Chesapeake region. The photographs consist primarily of 5x7, 4x5 and 120 mm film negatives. There are also 4x5 glass negatives and a few color transparencies.


  • 1925-1970


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.

Biographical / Historical

In photographic circles around the world, A. Aubrey Bodine (1906 – 1970) was regarded as one of the finest pictorialists of the twentieth century. His pictures were exhibited in hundreds of prestigious shows, in scores of museums, and he won awards against top competition. His photographs were seen in the Sunday Sun, numerous books and magazines, on calendars, as murals, and as framed prints decorating homes.

Aubrey Bodine's photographic career began in 1923 when as an office boy with the Baltimore Sun he submitted photographs of the Thomas Viaduct at Relay to the editor of the Sunday paper, and they were published. From first to last Aubrey Bodine was a newspaperman covering all sorts of stories with his camera - news events, famous people, unusual places and curious activities. This gave him opportunities to travel throughout the region and learn about it in every tide, wind, weather and season. Out of this experience came remarkable documentary pictures of farming, oystering, hunting, soap boiling, blacksmithing, clock making, bricklaying and dozens of other occupations, and student nurses, Amish children, pilots of ships and planes, country folk and city folk, wood sheds and cathedrals, wagons and railroad engines, and, in short, almost everything of interest. Moreover, the documentary pictures are of the very finest quality, often artistic in design and lighting effects far beyond the usual standard of newspaper work.

But Bodine's talent ran deeper than this, and so did his ambition. He submitted photographs to national and international salon competitions and consistently won top honors. Bodine believed that photography could be a creative discipline, and he studied the principles of art at the Maryland Institute College of Art. The camera and the dark room equipment were tools to him like the painter's brush or the sculptor's chisel.

Bodine was a romantic pictorialist and this shows in his choice of subjects - the old times and the old things, the beauties of nature, man as an individual, and similar ideas. The pictures are usually quiet in mood partly because of the subdued tones and partly because of a low tension design made of open curves and natural perspective.

Not the least of Bodine's artistic ability was his craftsmanship. He was always experimenting with his tools, but seldom made a mistake. Some of his best pictures were literally composed in the viewfinder of the camera. In other cases he worked on the negative with dyes and intensifiers, pencil marking, and even scraping to produce the effect he had in mind. He added clouds photographically, and made other even more elaborate manipulations. Bodine's rationale for all these technical alterations of the natural scene was simply that, like the painter, he worked from the model and selected those features which suited his sense of mood, proportion and design. The picture was the thing, not the manner of arriving at it. He did not take a picture, he made a picture.


74 Linear Feet (74 boxes)

Language of Materials



The collection is broken down into two series: Series I. B0-B2067 and Series II. B2068-3844.

Photographs in Series I. are mostly identified photographs of people and places in Baltimore and throughout Maryland; these photographs have also been cataloged in the library catalog system.

Photographs in Series II. have more minimal descriptions and are uncataloged.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Collection was acquired in 1973 by the Peale Museum: Donor: Nancy Bodine (Mrs. A. Aubrey Bodine). In 1997 the Peale/Baltimore City Life Museums closed due to lack of funding. Their collections were transferred to the Maryland Historical Society in 1998.


Biographical essay taken from
Guide to the A. Aubrey Bodine photograph collection
Debbie Harner, Micah Connor, and Damon Talbot
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Revision Statements

  • 2020-06-24: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Emily Somach.

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States