News | July 11, 2024

Photographer Elizabeth Menzies Focus of New Exhibition at Princeton University

Elizabeth Menzies/Princeton University Library

Moving books to Firestone, Elizabeth Menzies

In 1936, three years out of high school and working from her home darkroom on Prospect Avenue in Princeton, Elizabeth Menzies (1915-2003) sold her first cover photograph to the Princeton Alumni Weekly (PAW). That photo and many others went uncredited. The back sides of the prints document an evolution from the lightly penciled “Menzies” to a polite “Credit Line Appreciated” to her rubber stamp insisting “Credit Line, Please.”

A new exhibition of Menzies’ work, Credit Line, Please: Photographs by Elizabeth Menzies, is now open. Curated by Phoebe Nobles (Processing Archivist), Emma Paradies (Library Collections Specialist IV), and Rosalba Varallo Recchia (Library Collections Specialist VI) of Princeton University Library, the exhibition features dozens of photographs from the University Archives collections at Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, in particular the Princeton Alumni Weekly Photograph Collection and the Historical Photograph Collections.

Menzies was both an insider and outsider. While excluded from the education she documented, she enjoyed privileged access to campus through her father Alan Menzies, a chemistry professor, and her job at Princeton’s Index of Medieval Art. Her camera was her ticket to lecture halls where, in the words of one PAW editor, undergraduates “endured Betty Menzies’ tennis shoes silently padding through the back rows.”

Campus in Snow
Elizabeth Menzies

Campus in snow, Elizabeth Menzies

Goheen children
Elizabeth Menzies/Princeton University Library

Goheen children, Elizabeth Menzies

Twirling hat in library
Elizabeth Menzies/Princeton University Library

Twirling hat in library, Elizabeth Menzies 

Menzies worked freelance and contributed countless photographs of the Princeton campus to PAW starting in 1936, through the World War II years, and late into the 1960s. Her credit line appeared increasingly during the War years. By the 1950s and 1960s, a Menzies cover was a matter of course for PAW editors. At mid-century, multiple exhibits of her photographs, paintings, and prints ran at the same time on campus and in town.

Menzies lived her entire life in Princeton until she died in 2003.

The exhibition, which runs through April 2025, is open to the public during regular opening hours.