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Katherine Elizabeth McClellan Papers

Identifier: CA-MS-00141

Scope and Contents

The Katherine Elizbeth McClellan Papers contain biographical information, newspaper clippings, a small amount of correspondence, a scrapbook,glass plate negatives, and photographs documenting McClellan's career as a professional photographer in Saranac Lake, New York, Northampton, Massachusetts, and later Sarasota, Florida.

Photographs include images McClellan took of the Smith College campus in 1904. The photographs are arranged in alphabetical order by name of building and include interior and exterior shots. In 1912 McClellan took a series of images of the Hillyer Art Gallery and these images are included with this series. McClellan was noted for her photographic landscape work and the collection includes images from the Adirondacks and Florida. Also included are images of her studio at 44 State Street in Northampton, a number of self-portraits and images of family and friends.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1878 - 1996
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1904-1918


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

Smith College retains copyright of materials created as part of its business operations; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by Smith College, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

Katherine Elizabeth McClellan (1859-1934) was born and raised in Paterson, New Jersey. After graduating from Smith College in 1882 she worked for eight years in private schools and as a tutor in New York and New Jersey. Her career as a photographer began in the Adirondacks in 1892 when the McClellan family moved to Saranac Lake, NY so that Katherine's sister could be treated for tuberculosis at the Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium. Katherine McClellan took up photography as a hobby, concentrating on landscapes. She turned her hobby into a thriving business. In addition to selling her photographs, McClellan also published two viewbooks, John Brown, or A Hero's Grave in the Adirondacks (1896) and Keene Valley: "In the Heart of the Mountains" (1898), and planned two more Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. It is not known whether these two were ever completed.

In 1903 McClellan started spending part of the year in Northampton, Massachusetts. She opened a studio on State Street and announced in the Smith College Monthly magazine that she 'was reading to take all order for photographs.' A large share of her business came from the college. She was hired to make photographs to illustrate college publications and newspaper and magazine articles. The College also called on her to document physical changes on campus. Her views of buildings, classrooms, the campus, and special events highlighted the College's facilities while presenting a dignified image of education and life at Smith. In 1912 she was given the title "Official Photographer of Smith College."

McClellan also produced for the College yearbook portraits of students and faculty, and group photographs of club members and house residents. She also documented the activities and events of college life such as dances, proms, and dramatic productions. In addition to her work for the College she also took portraits of local people, visiting dignitaries such as Helen Keller, Julia Ward Howe, and Henry James, to mention a few. She also took images of local townspeople.

In 1918, at the age of 59, McClellan retired to Florida. She and her sister, Daisietta McClellan, developed a tract of land known as McClellan Park and McClellan continued to make photographs of the Florida landscape and its people. On her move to Florida, McClellan sold her studio to her collaborator of ten years, Eric Stahlberg. He continued to shoot images for the College through the late 1940s and sold images, negatives and films to the College in 1958. Katherine McClellan died in Sarasota in September of 1934.


10.357 linear feet (15 containers)

Language of Materials



The Katherine Elizabeth McClellan Papers contain biographical information, newspaper clippings, a small amount of correspondence, a scrapbook and photographs documenting McClellan's career as a professional photographer in Saranac Lake, New York, Northampton, Massachusetts, and later Sarasota, Florida.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Boxes 1 and 2 contain Glass - FRAGILE

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Katherine Elizabeth McClellan Papers were donated to the Smith College Archives by McClellan in 1918. Photographs by McClellan have been donated over time to the Archives by various individuals. Original prints and glass plate negatives were donated by her long-time business partner, Eric Stahlberg and his widow.

Related Material

Additional images taken by Katherine McClellan as the official photographer at Smith College may be found in a wide array of records of the College. An inventory of her photographs in other portions of the College Archives is available on site.

Processing Information

Please note that prior to 2018, folder inventories were not always updated when new material was added to the collection. As a result, folder inventories may not be complete and folder numbers may be incorrect.

Finding aid to the Katherine Elizabeth McClellan Papers
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Nanci A. Young
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2018-11-13: Containers added and finding aid updated as part of College Archives survey
  • 2019-11-25: Added boxes 1 and 2 and updated S&C note, extents and dates.

Repository Details

Part of the Smith College Archives Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063