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Mss:658 1905-2005 P762 V

Polaroid Corporation. Polaroid Corporation, Series V: Records Related to Edwin H. Land, 1927-1995: A Finding Aid

Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University


Harvard Business School, Boston MA 02163.

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: Mss:658 1905-2005 P762 V
Repository: Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University
Title: Polaroid Corporation records, series V: records related to Edwin H. Land
Date(s): 1927-1995
Quantity: 52 linear feet (44 boxes, 19 oversize boxes)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: This series of the Polaroid Corporation records contains records related to Polaroid co-founder and chairman Edwin H. Land. Included in this series are articles and presentations by Land, published biographical works about Land, and photographs taken by Land and featuring Land as the subject.


The Polaroid Corporation records were received by Baker Library Special Collections as a donation from the Polaroid Corporation in 2006 and 2008.

Processing Information:

Processed: June 2017
By: Liam Sullivan
Due to the large physical size of the Polaroid Corporation records, similar records that are related as a result of being created, received, or used in the same activity have been grouped into series and an individual finding aid created for each. Each series has been assigned a roman numeral which is found in the series title and precedes all container identifiers. The order of the series does not reflect the original arrangement of the entire collection. Researchers should take care to note the full item number when requesting or citing Polaroid Corporation collection materials.

Conditions Governing Access:

Collection is open for research. Materials stored onsite. Please contact specialcollectionsref@hbs.edu for more information.

Preferred Citation:

Cite as: Polaroid Corporation Records Related to Edwin H. Land. Baker Library, Harvard Business School.

Related Materials

The Polaroid Corporation Records are comprised of the company's original corporate archives, donated to Harvard Business School in 2006. The collection is arranged into different series based on format or function. In addition to the Polaroid Corporation records related to Edwin H. Land, series V, the following series are open for research: Polaroid Corporation records, series I: administrative records, circa 1930-2005, Polaroid Corporation records, series II: legal and patent records, circa 1905-1995, and Polaroid Corporation records, series III: research and development records, 1905-2000 (inclusive), 1930-1985 (bulk). Researchers should note that there is considerable overlap in the subject matter contained in the various series, and are advised to search across all of the series finding aids for specific subjects or records.

Separated Materials

Audiovisual material has been separated from the collection. This material is part of the audiovisual series and is closed pending processing.

Biographical Note:

Edwin Herbert Land was a scientist and inventor who co-founded the Polaroid Corporation and served as its chairman until the early 1980s. Born May 7, 1909 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Land briefly attended Harvard University, but left his studies to create a laboratory with his Harvard physics instructor George Wheelwright. Established in 1932, the Land-Wheelwright Laboratories was renamed the Polaroid Corporation in 1937. Land led Polaroid for more than four decades, growing the company from a small research and development firm to a world-renown high-tech corporation. Land's intensive research led to the Polaroid Corporation's most famous discoveries and products including polarizing filters, the instant camera, and the retinex theory of color perception. During World War II, Land and his team at Polaroid produced the Vectograph for the war effort, which used polarized stereoscopic filters in aerial photographs. In 1947, Land first demonstrated his most celebrated invention, the Polaroid Land instant camera. From the 1950s to 1980s, new iterations of instant cameras and instant film were the leading products of the Polaroid Corporation. Land wrote extensively about his research and discoveries and published articles in both popular and scientific publications. He served as the face of the Polaroid Corporation, promoting the company and its products in public presentations and demonstrations. Land stepped down as chairman of Polaroid in 1980 and left the company in 1982. After his death on March 1, 1991, the Polaroid Corporation hosted a memorial event and tribute to reflect on Land's legacy and contributions to the company and its employees.

Scope and Content Note:

The Polaroid Corporation Records Related to Edwin H. Land is an artificial collection of material created by the Polaroid Corporate Archives to document the co-founder and long-term chair of the corporation. These are not the papers of Edwin H. Land, but a collection of materials created by Land in the course of his work with the company that were collected by Polaroid. From the 1930s-1980s, Land led the Polaroid Corporation as the chief researcher and innovator, manager, and the public face of the company. The collection includes material created by Land such as correspondence, photocopies and offprints of published articles, presentations, and original research. Land's role within the corporation is also documented in published biographical works and in interviews with Polaroid employees. The bulk of the collection consists of photographs, 35 mm slides, and photographic negatives. These images are often the output from the research processes of testing new cameras and films at the Polaroid lab, but Land is frequently the subject of the photographs, allowing a glimpse into his life at work and home. This collection provides resources for researchers interested in studying Land's role as an innovator and leader within the Polaroid Corporation. The collection is arranged into four series: Series I. Correspondence, 1927-1979, Series II. Research, Writings, and Presentations, 1927-1993, Series III. Biographical Material, 1933-1995, and Series IV. Photographs, 1945-1987.

Container List