Swain Collection, 1910-1940

Swain, George Robert

1910 - 1940

Photographic materials

George Robert Swain was born on July 15, 1866 in Meredith, New Hampshire, United States. An educator and a photographer, his career included thirty-four years of service at the University of Michigan as university photographer from 1913 - 1947. From 1913 he went with Professor Francis W. Kelsey on trips to Europe as a photographic technician. The purpose of these expeditions was to document sites that were of interest to classical history scholars, as well as to identify sites that might have potential for future excavations. Among Swain's photographic equipment was a Cirkut camera, one of the earliest rotation cameras manufactured for commercial use. In Italy, their travels led to a photographic study of Roman aqueducts, on this subject G.R. Swain also assisted Esther B. Van Deman and many of his photographs were used by Thomas Ashby. In 1924 - 1926 Swain was part of a university expedition which conducted excavation at Antioch in Pisidia, then travelled also to Greece, Mount Athos, Patmos, Tunisia and Algeria. At one time or another Swain travelled the entire Mediterranean coastline with the exception of Spain and Morocco. He died at the age of eighty on April 8, 1947 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The collection consists of photographs of various archaeological sites produced by Swain during his trips in Italy. Many photographs by George Swain document Francis Kelsey’s expedition to Europe. The collection is partially described by an index made by G.R. Swain and a list by the Kelsey Museum in Ann Arbor. The index and list are incomplete, but references to these are included in the descriptions of individual photographs.

Many photographs contain the original inventory number and description from Swain's index (cf. Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, University of Michigan, US). The original inventory follows a simple numerical order (3** and 5**) with some numbers containing a prefix relating to the format of the photograph: if printed as 5x7, takes the prefix is 5.####; if printed as 4x6, the prefix is 4.####; the same for 7x10 and 8x11; numbers with prefix KS###.## refer to photographs made with a Kodak (where the first three numbers are for the roll number, and the last two for the frame within the roll). The Swain inventory number is found on the verso of the print, with a stamp: "Near East Research, University of Mich. U.S.A., Photograph by G.R. Swain - No.** or is printed on the right corner of the photograph (i.e. nn. 5**). The original inventory number has been maintained both in the catalog call number and in the name of the digital files. Prints without Swain inventory number have been given a new numerical sequence written in brackets (*); this new numbering is used both in the catalog and the name of the digital files.

The entire collection has been digitized.

Ca. 150 photographic prints (various format: 27 x 17 cm, 24 x 19 cm, 11 x 8 cm and 8 x 10 cm)

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