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Carol M. Highsmith, Visual Documentarian for the Library of Congress and Foundation Board Member

Carol M. Highsmith, who was born in North Carolina and raised in Minnesota, is a visual documentarian of America for the Library of Congress.

The Carol M. Highsmith Collection at the Library of Congress is featured in the top six collections out of 15 million images in the Library’s Prints & Photographs archive (, alongside the work of Civil War master photographer Mathew Brady, Depression and Dust Bowl photojournalist Dorothea Lange, and the Historic American Buildings Survey. Carol’s Collection that is one of 48 Collections is 3rd in the number of people who visit.

In addition to commercial and architectural photography, she

has completed the exclusive photography for more than 50 nationally distributed coffee-table books about U.S. cities, states, and regions, most published by Random House Publishing. Random House has also published Highsmith books on Ireland, Ellis Island, barns, lighthouses, engineering marvels, and New York’s World Trade Center. More than 1.5 million Highsmith books have sold nationwide.

As president of Chelsea Publishing, Inc., Highsmith has published, and produced the photographs for additional books:

Forgotten No More: The Korean War Veterans Memorial

Union Station: A Decorative History of Washington’s Grand Terminal

Reading Terminal and Market: Philadelphia’s Historic Gateway and Grand Convention Center

Houston: Deep in the Heart

Alabama. Colorado, Wyoming, Connecticut and California

Carol M. Highsmith’s photography has been the centerpiece of other important books on monumental Washington and historical renovations nationwide. Foremost among them was America Restored, published by The National Trust for Historic Preservation, for which she photographed in all fifty states.

In 2010, the Washington Post devoted a full front-page Style Section article to Highsmith and her career: Washington post Style Section

Highsmith’s work has been published in Smithsonian, Time, The New York Times, Architecture, The Washington Post Magazine and other national publications. Her images on the Library of Congress were featured in an inside spread in Life magazine.


  • Highsmith has been working on a multi-year project that involves photographing 21st Century America for the Library of Congress, picking up where Lange left off during the WPA project of the 1930s. She began her expeditions in the state of Alabama and in Connecticut and Washington, D.C., with underwriting from New York businessman George F. Landegger. Each year, Carol is donating more than 10,000 images from these expeditions to the Library of Congress.
  • In 2008 The American Institute of Architects commissioned Highsmith to travel to 148 locations across the United States to showcase its top-100 listing of America’s Favorite Architecture. The site won a WebbyAward:
  • In 2007 National Geographic published the book Etched In Stone featuring Highsmith’s photography. It captures inspirational words carved or etched into monuments and memorials across America.
  • In 2006, the American Institute of Architects exhibited Highsmith’s study of Washington’s Willard Hotel — along with the Willard images of Frances Benjamin Johnston taken decades earlier. The exhibit then traveled to sites across America.

  • Highsmith was the official photographer of the meticulous reconstruction of the historic Willard, known as the “Hotel of Presidents.” She documented its restoration from1981 — when it was a decrepit, abandoned shell — through 1986. She showcased the final restoration, which was the foundation of a major gallery show in the Willard’s fabled “Peacock Alley.”
  • The General Services Administration has commissioned Highsmith, who has worked with GSA for many years, to photograph federal courthouses and federal buildings nationwide. She is showcasing both their historic architecture and their WPA-era and modern art: Highsmith was awarded a citation for her work on the GSA-produced book Art in Architecture in 2009.
  • Highsmith’s image of the Jefferson Memorial was selected by the U.S. Postal Service for its Priority Mail stamp. One hundred million were produced. (See image below)

Highsmith photographed Abraham Lincoln’s possessions at Ford’s Theatre and at the Lincoln site in Illinois, as well as Robert E. Lee’s belongings at Arlington House and the collections of Fredrick Douglass, Harry S. Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Theodore Roosevelt, Carl Sandburg, Clara Barton, Maggie Walker, and Nez Perce Indians. This is the link to The National Park Service Museum Management Program:

  • The Annie E. Casey Foundation awarded Highsmith a nationwide grant to photograph urban areas and disadvantaged families in 22 cities from 2001-2003.
  • Highsmith was retained by the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation to photograph the rebirth of ”America’s Main Street” and its historic landmarks. She documented the rebuilding of Pennsylvania Avenue for 17 years.

In all of her work, Highsmith utilizes the latest and finest professional digital equipment including the 150mp Phase One camera.

For more information, see her Web site at