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Special Collections Launches Jack Sheaffer Digital Photograph Collection

Photo: 1957 Rodeo, Jack Sheaffer, 2/21/1957; 7281.18, Jack Sheaffer Photograph Collection (MS435); Special Collections, The University of Arizona Libraries
Photo: 1957 Rodeo, Jack Sheaffer, 2/21/1957; 7281.18, Jack Sheaffer Photograph Collection (MS435); Special Collections, The University of Arizona Libraries

Date: May 1, 2011

Contact: Erika Castano


Special Collections at the University of Arizona is proud to announce the completion of the Jack Sheaffer Photograph Digital Collection, an important addition to the university’s digital archive, providing students and researchers from around the world with access to more than three decades worth of photographs that document the people, places and events that shaped Tucson and Southern Arizona in the latter half of the 20th century. The Jack Sheaffer Photograph Digital Collection is available online at http://content.library.arizona.edu/collections/jsheaffer/index.php.

Jack Sheaffer was born in southern Arizona in 1929. A onetime amateur boxer, Sheaffer graduated from Tucson High School in 1947 and won a scholarship to the Fred Archer School of Photography in Los Angeles, a renowned school of the art in the decades after World War II. Returning to Tucson a year later, Sheaffer began working as a commercial photographer. After a four-year stint overseas in the Air Force, Sheaffer returned once again to the Southwest, and began freelancing for the Arizona Daily Star, establishing a connection that would shape his career.

Formally joining the staff in 1973, Sheaffer was the Daily Star’s chief photographer for 27 years, until 1982, when he was badly burned in an explosion at the Tucson Newspaper plant. In 1985, Sheaffer compiled a book with fellow journalist and former managing editor of the Daily Star, Steve Emerine. Jack Sheaffer’s Tucson, 1945-1965 showcases some five-hundred of the more than 44,000 photographs he made during his 40-year career recording the life and news of the area—and provides commentary about each image.

Known through his life for his cigars and woolly attitude, Sheaffer is best remembered today for his colossal catalog of photos. His papers, business records, negatives, as well as some prints were given to the University of Arizona’s Special Collections by the Sheaffer family upon his death in March of 1999.

The Jack Sheaffer Photograph Digital Collection contains over 10,000 images—culled from some 300,000 negatives—that document the photographic history of Southern Arizona during a time of explosive growth in the area, from 1955-1975. The subjects included in this collection run the gamut from politics and sports, to celebrity visits, tragic accidents and local beauty pageants, and the collection is continually growing. Sheaffer’s vast assortment of negatives—including some 3,000 pertaining to the Tucson Rodeo, as well as “mugshots” of Paul Newman, Sidney Poitier, Sophia Loren, Johnny Cash, the Three Stooges and dozens of other celebrities—are available for viewing upon request, and as visitors solicit reproductions, each newly digitalized photo is added to the digital collection.

Rights and reproduction information, as well as an application for permission to publish, is available online.

The University Libraries’ Special Collections regularly digitizes selections from their holdings to increase access to unique and rare material via the World Wide Web. Online you can find a variety of collections containing such material as digitized diaries, manuscripts, photographs, sound recordings, personal papers, reports and legislation. Current digital collections include The Morris K. Udall Oral History Project, the Oury Family Papers, the Civil War Diary of Alexander Grayson Bowman, and the Southwest and Borderlands Photograph Collection. A current list of digital collections is available here.

Related coverage:

UANews | New Digital Collection Complete
AZ Public Media (video) | Tucson Through a Lost Lens