Robert Kniesche Photograph Collection, PP79

Finding Aid to the Robert Kniesche Photograph Collection, PP79

H. Furlong Baldwin Library, Maryland Historical Society

Collection summary


Robert Kniesche Photograph Collection


Robert Kniesche (1906-1976)

Call number


Inclusive dates

1923 – 1976, not dated

Bulk dates

1950 - 1970


37 boxes


This collection contains over 6,000 photographs taken by Robert Kniesche over the course of his career as a professional photographer, primarily with The Baltimore Sun newspaper. Maryland subjects include: aviation, trains, theaters and theatrical productions; sports events including horse racing, fox hunting, regattas, baseball, and football, portraits of sports celebrities and performing artists; maritime activities including oyster harvesting, ship building, and many images of specific vessels; Baltimore scenes including images of "The Block", Arabbers, painted screens, and marble steps; nature photography including zoo animals and domestic cats. There are also aerial views of Baltimore and vicinity. Other Maryland locations include the Chesapeake Bay, Ocean City, Easton, and Cumberland.

Related Collections


MS 3129, Robert Kniesche Manuscript Collection

Administrative summary


H. Furlong Baldwin Library

Maryland Historical Society

201 W. Monument St.

Baltimore, MD 21201

Access restrictions

Open to the public without restrictions.

Use restrictions

For information about how to purchase digital reproductions and for permission information, please visit the Rights and Reproductions page


Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Kniesche, 1977.

Accession number


Processing note

Partially processed by Katherine Cowan with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, November 1999; Processing completed by Damon Talbot, June 2014.

Biographical Note

Robert F. Kniesche (1906-1976) was a photographer of international importance. Born in Baltimore, he dropped out of high school at Polytechnic to pursue his career. He began work as a photographer for the Sunpapers in the 1920s, and stayed there until his retirement, serving many years as photographic director. He also worked briefly for the Chicago Tribune, served in the Navy during World War II, and organized the photographic department of WMAR-TV when it opened in 1947. He was a charter member of the National Press Photographers Association. Kniesche specialized in aerial and animal photography. His photographs won many awards, and were exhibited at the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Peale Museum, and at universities and libraries.

To read more about Robert Kniesche and view some examples of his photographs please see The Photographs of Robert Kniesche at Underbelly, the MdHS library’s blog.

Scope and Content

The collection consists of 37 boxes of more than 6,000 photographic prints and negatives. All photographs were shot by Robert Kniesche, unless otherwise noted in the container list.

As a photojournalist, Kniesche captured a wide variety of subject matter in Maryland and particularly in Baltimore. The collection feature quintessential Baltimore scenes, including images of the "The Block", Arabbers, painted screens, and marble steps. There are photos of public buildings, churches, and residences; maritime scenes, including the Baltimore harbor, oyster harvesting, ship building, and log canoes; sports, including horse racing, fox hunting, regattas and football. Football photos include Colts games and players such as Gino Marchetti and Alan Ameche.

Kniesche was particularly fond of animals and there are a large number of photographs of zoo animals and domestic cats. Aviation was also a popular subject and the collection includes images of airplanes and specific aircraft, including a dirigible, airmail plane, and an aerial dogfight. There are also aerial views of Baltimore and other locales in Maryland, and Washington D.C.

Celebrities captured by Kniesche’s camera include Veronica Lake, Betty Hutton, H.L. Mencken, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Wrong-way Corrigan, Rosa Ponselle, Lily Pons, Rin Tin Tin, Fritz Maisel and Babe Ruth.

Note: This collection was previously known as B27, therefore some items may be labeled with this designation.


The Robert Kniesche Photograph Collection is organized by format into seven series. All items are black and white images except where indicated. Some of the series are broken down into subseries by subject or topic. Many of the prints correspond to negatives in the collection. Click on the links below to see a detailed container list for each series.

Download a PDF version of the finding aid and full container list

Series I: Glass Negatives

This series consists of 48, 4 x 5 glass negatives. The images date from the 1920s to the 1930s or are undated. Images include opera singer Lily Pons at the Lyric Theater in Baltimore, a fire at Baltimore’s Crown Cork and Seal factory, and Babe Ruth at the Old Oriole Stadium in 1931.

Series II: Film Negatives, 4 x 5, 2 ¼, 35 mm

This series consist of 24 subseries:

Subseries 1: Art

Subseries 2: Aviation

Subseries 3: Aerial Views of Baltimore

Subseries 4: Baltimore Churches and Synagogues

Subseries 5: Baltimore Harbor

Subseries 6: Photographs of Baltimore Harbor found in "Baltimore Harbor: A Picture History" by Robert Keith

Subseries 7: Baltimore Industry

Subseries 8: Baltimore Scenes

Subseries 9: Maritime

Subseries 10: Maryland Places

Subseries 11: Miscellaneous

Subseries 12: Animals

Subseries 13: Plants

Subseries 14: Non-Maryland

Subseries 15: Portraits

Subseries 16: Sports

Subseries 17: Art (continued)

Subseries 18: Aviation

Subseries 19: Baltimore

Subseries 20: Maritime (continued)

Subseries 21: Maryland Places (continued)

Subseries 22: Miscellaneous (continued)

Subseries 23: Nature

Subseries 24: Non-Maryland (continued)

 Subseries 25: Portraits (continued)

Series III: Film Negatives, 35mm

This series consists of more than 400 images. Topics include aviation, maritime, an operating room at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and unidentified people and places. There are also photographs of H.L. Mencken and Barnum and Bailey’s Circus.

Series IV: Prints, 8 x 10 and smaller

This series consists of three subseries:

Subseries 1: Animals

Subseries 2: Robert Kniesche

Subseries 3: Miscellaneous

Series V: Prints, 16 x 20 matted

This series consists of prints matted on 16 x 20 boards used by Robert Kniesche in various exhibitions of his work. A variety of subjects are represented, including aviation, architecture, art, sports, Baltimore, maritime, and more.

Series VI: Prints, 16 x 20 and larger

This series consists of 16 x 20 or larger prints, mostly un-matted, with a variety of subjects represented, including aviation, architecture, art, sports, Baltimore, maritime, and more.

Series VII: Prints, 11 x 14

This series consists of 9 subseries:           

 Subseries 1: Aerial Views

 Subseries 2: Animals

 Subseries 3: Architecture

 Subseries 4: Aviation

 Subseries 5: Maritime

 Subseries 6: Miscellaneous

 Subseries 7: Nature

 Subseries 8: People

 Subseries 9: Robert Kniesche