The thousands of items in this digital presentation are a sampling of an archive of more than 75,000 images of theatrical personalities and productions. Images in the current presentation represent glass plate and acetate negatives primarily.
The Vandamm archive documents almost comprehensively three decades of theatrical history in New York. Florence and Tommy Vandamm, married in 1918, moved to New York from London in the 1920s when their portrait studio business declined after the war. They began to establish dominance in the field in 1928 when they undertook a contract with the Theatre Guild to photograph all of their productions. Tommy concentrated on documenting the stage work while Florence took responsibility for the portraits. Hallmarks of the Vandamms' collective work are the beautiful compositions they achieved and the flattering images they created. Their accomplishment came with enormous labor and attention to detail. A painter's eye is apparent and spontaneity is absent in their stage shots and portraits alike, which they carefully planned, composed, and lit. The Billy Rose Theatre Collection purchased the archive of negatives and prints in 1961 when Florence closed the studio.
Henderson, Mary C. Broadway Ballyhoo (1989)
Thomas, Robert S. Vandamm, N.Y., a pictorial record of the modern American Theater (1945?)