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Jeannette Klute collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RITArt-0061

Scope and Contents

The Jeannette Klute collection contains photographs, print matrices correspondence, newspaper and magazine clippings and ephemera related to Klute's career as a photographer and Kodak employee specializing in the dye transfer process.


  • Creation: 1949-2005
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1949 - 1970


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Biographical / Historical

Jeannette Klute (1918-2009) was born in 1918 in Rochester, N.Y. She graduated from high school in 1936 and attended the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics (later renamed RIT), where she studied photographic technology and graduated in 1940. She later attended the University of Rochester, where she graduated with a B.S. degree in general studies. Shortly after starting at RIT, she was hired at Eastman Kodak Company, where within a short time she transferred to the Research Laboratories. By 1945 she was head of the Visual Research Studio of the Color Control Division. Her efforts were mainly directed on testing and refining the dye transfer process and materials, which had been recently introduced. She eventually achieved notoriety for her experiments, and many photographers visited the labs at Kodak to learn about her efforts. She also worked for many years as photographic illustrator for world renowned Eastman Kodak physicist Ralph M. Evans, and illustrated many of his books. She retired from Kodak in 1982, having moved up the ranks to manage the Photographic Technology Studio in 1974.

She grew into an expert at the dye transfer process through extensive experimentation while pursuing her own photographic vision. Always inspired by nature as well as environmentally aware, Klute took her camera outdoors to photograph in the local Bristol, New York area. She chose as her subject individual wild flowers and plants, carrying a large format camera into nature to capture them in situ. She used a shallow depth of focus, which blurred the background, and literally brought the focus on to the plant. The photographs were accomplished without special lighting, using only white cards to bounce the natural light to accent the image. Plants were never dug up, and great pains were taken to not disturb the natural environment. Always interested in experimentation, she worked with her lab supervisor Dorothea Peterson to develop a process they named “derivations”. For this experimental process they used modified brightness scales and other photographic based variables to produce unusual effects of saturated color and line.

By 1950, she had garnered national attention for the artistry of her color saturated dye transfer photographs. Her work was featured in important exhibitions of the 1950s, including Edward Steichen’s 1950 exhibition All Color Photography at the Museum of Modern Art and the landmark exhibition Women of Photography held at the San Francisco Museum of Art and Photography in the Fine Arts –II, a juried invitational at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Smithsonian circulated an exhibit of her works, Pictorial Photographs, an exhibition of Miss Jeannette Klute, nationally and works made it into several important international exhibits. The editor of the Fanny Farmer Cook Book invited Klute to illustrate the newest edition of the book. In 1952 Little Brown and Co. published Woodland Portraits, a portfolio of 50 color plates reproducing her dye transfer plant images. She also produced a highly regarded series of tide-pool studies that was exhibited nationally, again using the dye transfer process.

After her retirement she took up painting, continuing to look to nature for her subjects and creating semi-abstract works exploring color and form. She died in 2009.


18.5 Linear Feet (7 lid boxes, 2 file boxes, and 2 5.5 x 10" metal card file boxes)




The Jeannette Klute collection contains photographs, matrices and papers, including correspondence and published articles that document her work photographing and making dye transfer photographs. During a long career in the research labs at Eastman Kodak Company she tested and refined the difficult process and applied it to her own artistic work. Inspired by nature, Klute photographed plants in the Bristol, New York area as well as New England. Her series of dye transfer prints entitled Woodland Portraits received national attention in the 1950s and 60s.


The collection is divided into series:

1. Photographs

2. Matrices

3. Correspondence

4. Published photographs

5. Publicity

6. Reprints and extras

7. Exhibition announcements

8. Lectures

9. Derivations - File sheets and notes

10. Lists, itineraries, resumes

11. Bergen swamp - brochures, pamphlets, maps

12. New England Art Exposition - 1993

13. Instruction Manuals

14. Record of sales

15. Financial Records

16. Biographical information

Physical Location

C.S. North, Shelves 189-191.

Other Finding Aids

In addition to this finding aid, an inventory is available below. For more information, please contact the RIT Archive Collections.

Jeannette Klute collection

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated to RIT Archive Collections by Nancy Pease in 2009. Accession number(s): 09:68


  • A selection of the photographs were published in: Woodland Portraits, by Jeannette Klute (Boston: Little, Brown, 1954).

Processing Information

Finding aid created by Becky Simmons in October 2011.

Jeannette Klute collection
RIT Art Collection
Becky Simmons
11 November 2011
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the RIT Archives Repository

Rochester NY 14623 USA