Permanence. Preservation. Care. We use these words often when we talk about Henry Wilhelm’s life’s work. A photographer, inventor, and Guggenheim fellow, he’s been called “a legendary figure in the history of photography” and “the world’s leading authority on the permanence and preservation of traditional and digital color photographs.”
Wilhelm first became interested in the preservation of photographs as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Bolivia in 1962. In 1965, he photographed Martin Luther King’s voting rights marches in Selma for a series of articles in the College newspaper. He furthered his interest in image preservation during work with master photographer Ansel Adams. He was a photographer for the 1966 Grinnell yearbook, which was banned by the college and not published until 1986.
Since then, through Wilhelm Imaging Research, the company he founded with his wife Carol Brower Wilhelm, he has consulted for the Museum of Modern Art, filmmaker Martin Scorsese, and Bill Gates’ 65-million-image Corbis photography collections. His image permanence test methods are the worldwide standard, and his clients include Hewlett-Packard, Epson, Canon, Kodak, Fuji, and many others. His 744-page book, written with Carol, The Permanence and Care of Color Photographs, is a landmark in its field.
Finally, Wilhelm has done all of this pioneering work — and conducted business around the globe — from right here in Grinnell, where he came first as a student and where he chose to live and work. As a citizen of the town of Grinnell and of the world, and for helping preserve society’s most important photographs as well as our own, Grinnell College is proud to recognize Henry Wilhelm.