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The Fred G. Hill Photograph Collection

A impressive sample of work by Burlington photographer Fred G. Hill is on display in the Special Collections reading room this semester.

In 2010, photographer Fred G. Hill — a self-described obsessed accumulator of stuff — donated the carefully preserved negatives, prints, work journals and billing ledgers from his commercial and industrial work to Special Collections. The Hill collection, which dates from 1970 into the early years of the 21st century, nicely complements the early and mid 20th-century collections of Burlington photographers Louis L. McAllister and James Detore.

Hill’s business primarily involved advertising and industrial photography, although he also did portrait, passport and wedding photos. He worked in his Burlington studio and on location. His customers included a broad sample of Vermont businesses engaged in manufacturing, retail, finance, recreation, hospitality, printing, and service. Hill also worked for numerous artists and crafts people and social service agencies. Over the years, his photographs were used in many local publications.

The Hill Collection provides an invaluable historical record of late-20th century architecture and development in Vermont. During the course of his career, Hill photographed buildings  and construction sites throughout the state.  In 2004, Hill photographed every façade on the core streets of downtown Burlington, documenting buildings, businesses and activities from Pearl to King and South Union to Lake Streets.

The bulk of the collection includes hundreds of black and white and color negatives, transparencies, slides, prints, and contact prints. Prints are currently boxed in very general categories (art, products, industry, architecture, portraits, activities, theater, music, Philo Records). Hill donated his detailed business records, which will help researchers identify images and also understand the business of commercial photography at the end of the twentieth century. The collection also includes publications where Hill’s photographs appeared and graphic art such as posters. Hill helped organize the Society of Vermont Photographers and the Vermont chapter of the Graphic Artists Guild, and records of their activities are part of the collection.

The Hill photographs will be on display until March 12, 2012 in the Special Collections reading room in Bailey/Howe Library.  Special Collections is open 10 am-7 pm Monday-Wednesday, 10 am-5 pm Tuesday and Thursday, and 1-5 pm on Sunday. The exhibit is open to the public. For more information, call 656-2138 or email uvmsc@uvm.edu


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