approx. 16,400 photographic negatives, 5,000 prints, 12 vintage 16 x 20″ exhibition prints, and a mix of 8 x 10″ negatives, transparencies, and additional vintage prints
Adolph Bransford Rice (1909–1960) was a prolific photographer, addressing a range of commercial needs in Richmond throughout the 1950s. A well-liked businessman, Rice was active in Richmond’s Catholic community, as evidenced by his frequent photographic coverage of church activities, as well as a member of several photographic associations, and regularly contributed images to the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the News Leader. After Rice’s death at age 51, the studio went to his son, Adolph Rice Jr., who went on to serve as a staff photographer for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Library of Virginia, eventually donating his father’s entire photographic inventory to the latter.
Browsing the collection is an exercise in discovery as one stumbles upon subjects as eclectic as funerals and Noel Coward plays, broken sidewalks and local celebrities, austere priests and laughing nuns, retail displays and Tobacco Festival parades, highway construction and traffic accidents, groundbreaking ceremonies and retail showrooms, office parties and stag parties, school field trips and Civil War reenactments, elevator operators and Easter bunnies. Unlike many commercial photographers of the period, Rice seems to have had a personal ease with his subjects, who never come off as posed or awkward.
Rice also cultivated, as a specialty, aerial views of neighborhoods, parks, and roadways, documenting the suburban infill that characterized Richmond in the 1950s and taking a bird’s-eye census of many familiar locales, such as the Carillon, Maymont Park, Southside Plaza, and the Virginia State Fairgrounds.
Emily J. and John S. Salmon’s book Historic Photographs of Richmond in the 50s, 60s, and 70s features more than 40 images drawn from the Rice Collection.
Related resources and collections:
Rice Jr.’s photographic work for the Library of Virginia also appears throughout our collections.