Scope and Content
Arrangement of the Arnold Del Carlo Photograph Collection
Title: Arnold Del Carlo Photograph
Date (inclusive): 1948-1990
Collection Number: 11
Del Carlo, Arnold
Containers: 2 filing cabinets, 12 binders, 102 boxes
Volume: 83 cubic feet
Selected online items available
Sourisseau Academy for State and
San Jose State University
Abstract: The Arnold Del Carlo Photograph Collection consists of
photographs and negatives, which document the transformation of Santa Clara Valley
from orchards to an urban landscape. The years covered by the collection range from
the late 1940s to the early 1970s, and include photographs taken from the street
level as well as from the air. Prominent groups of photographs include those taken
of institutions such as San Jose State College, the City of San Jose, the
International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), and General Motors Company (GMC);
of land developers and builders, and business establishments in the cities of San
Jose and Santa Clara; and portraits of individuals and families, as well as weddings
Collection is open for research.
Copyright is assigned to Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History. All
requests for permission to publish should be submitted to Sourisseau Academy.
Permission for publication is given on behalf of Sourisseau Academy. Copyright
restrictions may apply to digital reproductions of the original materials.
[Identification of item], Arnold Del Carlo Photograph Collection, Sourisseau
Academy for State and Local History, San Jose State University, San Jose,
The Arnold Del Carlo Photograph Collection was donated to the Sourisseau Academy for
State and Local History by the Edith Corinne Smith Trust in 2009.
Arnold Del Carlo was born in St. Paul, Minnesota on June 3, 1921, the first son of
Natale and Estelle (McGowan) Del Carlo. During his childhood and teenage years, Del
Carlo became fascinated with both airplanes and photography, but it was not until
the beginning of the Second World War that the two interests merged. After
completing Basic Training with the US Army in rural Texas, Del Carlo was sent to
Bombardier School, where he was assigned to a partner cadet. The two cadets worked
together, with one dropping bombs on a target and the other filming the puffs of
smoke created by the bomb. The 35mm movie film was later processed in the laboratory
where Del Carlo worked, showing the smoke relation to the target.
After having completed training at the Bombadier School in Texas, Del Carlo was sent
to study engineering in the Army Specialized Training Program at Niagara University
in New York. After a year, however, the program was closed and he was sent to Camp
Carson in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In August of 1944, Del Carlo was assigned to
the Headquarters Company of a combat engineers' regiment, the primary tasks of which
were to build bridges and repair roads, enabling the Allied forces to move through
Europe unimpeded by poor road conditions. Although Del Carlo's job was draftsman, he
carried his own Kodak folding camera with him, photographing and developing the
films as he moved across Europe with his company.
Following his discharge from the Army in 1945, Del Carlo returned to St. Paul where
he enrolled at Macalester College. There he studied engineering while also
photographing college clubs and dances in his spare time to supplement his income.
His first professional job as a photographer was a summer job for the Northern
Pacific Railroad, entailing him to photograph the rail line from St. Paul to
Seattle, Washington. Using his father's car, he drove himself along the rail line as
he photographed the line, developing the prints in the bathrooms of the hotels he
Shortly after that summer, Del Carlo moved with his parents to San Jose, California,
where he enrolled at San Jose State College. While pursuing a degree in
architecture, Del Carlo was first hired to take pictures of sorority dances with his
Speed Graphic camera and subsequently approached by Danny Hill from the athletic
department to take pictures of the college sports teams. When his SJSC work was seen
by Henry Haggland of Hale's Department Store, Del Carlo was hired by that company to
photograph merchandise items so artists could draw them for newspaper
It was during this time that Del Carlo met Angelo Butera, with whom he would work for
the next 12 years. Together, they worked from a studio on East San Fernando Street
in San Jose, shooting fashion shows, studio portraits, and providing newspapers with
photographs free of charge in an effort to advertise their work. In 1950, Del Carlo
met and married Joyce Skillrud, who was working as a model on the set of a photo
shoot. They moved into a house Del Carlo himself designed and had built on Chauncy
Way in San Jose. In his new home, Del Carlo used the garage as a studio for his
commercial work and the spare bedroom as a darkroom. The Del Carlos lived in the
Chauncy Way residence for ten years and welcomed three children into the family. In
1956, Del Carlo and his business partner Angelo Butera moved their studio to 1295
The Alameda, San Jose where they worked together until 1960 when Del Carlo decided
to separate from Butera in order to pursue further his specialization in commercial
In 1963, Del Carlo built a duplex on a commercial lot on Brokaw Road, using one half
as a studio and renting out the other half to a seamstress. The following year, Del
Carlo moved his family to Mendelsohn Lane in Saratoga, where two more children were
born to Joyce and Arnold.
Throughout the 1950s and into the 1980s, Del Carlo photographed in many areas of
specialization, including portraiture, glamour, fashion, weddings, architectural and
aerial photography. Regular customers included advertising agencies, housing
developers requesting interior and exterior photographs of family homes, building
developers in need of aerial photos of land parcels before and after construction,
and electronic companies who commissioned photographs of products and equipment. For
several major building projects, Del Carlo became the official photographer; he
documented the construction of IBM Building 025, the San Jose Sewer Plant in Alviso,
as well as the General Motors Corporation plant, which later became Nummi, and is
now Tesla. In addition to commercial photography, Del Carlo spent much of his career
in wedding and fashion photography, developing his own routines and techniques while
working with models, as well as brides and their families.
After earning his pilot license and purchasing a single-engine Cessna 170A aviation
aircraft, Del Carlo provided aerial photographs to his customers as well. In order
to take photographs from the air, he cut a 12-inch oval hole through the floor of
the back seat so he could shoot vertical and oblique images. For some of the aerial
work commissioned, Del Carlo utilized an Army surplus K-17 aerial camera with 9x9
inch film, while for other assignments he employed a hand-held Pentax 2¼ x 3¼ camera
with a focal plane shutter. Most of the aerials Del Carlo shot were 4x5 obliques,
which were identified by the locations captured in the foreground, as well as by
coordinates determined with a 1950s Regal city map.
Del Carlo continued his photography work through the 1980s until he retired in 1990.
His first major project after retirement was the compilation of a "before-and-after"
photography book based on the images he had taken in the 1940s while serving with
the Combat Engineers and those shot in the early 1990s during three trips to Europe.
Del Carlo self-published his book under the title of
A Walk in
. Arnold del Carlo is currently the photographer for the Saratoga
Rotary Club and served for several years as the editor of the club's
Bulletin, published bi-monthly.
The following terms may be used to index this collection
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Business enterprises -- Photographs --
Portraits -- 20th Century
San Jose (Calif.) -- Photographs -- 20th
Santa Clara County
Santa Clara County (Calif.) --
Photographs -- 20th Century
Santa Clara Valley
Santa Clara Valley (Calif.) --
Photographs -- 20th Century
San Jose (Calif.) -- Aerial photographs
-- 20th Century
Weddings -- Photographs -- 20th
Scope and Content
The Arnold Del Carlo Photograph Collection consists of thousands of photographs and
negatives, which document the transformation of the city of San Jose and the Santa
Clara Valley over a thirty year period. Many of the collection's photos and
negatives chronicle the evolution of the valley in the early 1950s from acres of
apricot, plum, cherry, and pear orchards to sprawling urban landscapes by the end of
the 1970s while others testify to San Jose's economic shift from agriculture to
industrial manufacturing, showing the gradual replacement of agricultural lands with
parcels being divided and developed into housing, industrial, and commercial
Arnold del Carlo specialized in commercial photography by the beginning of the 1960s;
prominent groups of photographs in this sub-set of the collection include those
taken of institutions such as San Jose State College, the City of San Jose, the
International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), and General Motors Corporation
(GMC). One large sub-set of photographs details the construction of IBM Building 025
in South San Jose, with photos of the development taken every month by Del Carlo
from the air as well as from the ground. Hundreds of other photos in the collection
document the impact of land developers and builders in the city of San Jose, showing
the interior and exterior of model homes and business establishments, as well as the
development of neighborhoods and the downtown area of San Jose and Santa Clara.
Other areas Del Carlo specialized in were weddings, studio portraits and fashion
shoots. The photographs in this sub-set of the collection document the celebration
activities of different groups of people in the city of San Jose, show changes in
bridal fashion and women's clothing, and provide glimpses of the interiors of
various churches, as well as public and private buildings where these celebrations
The most notable sub-set of Del Carlo's commercial work is comprised of the aerial
photographs shot from his Cessna aircraft. Most of the photographs taken prior to
1965 were organized by the coordinates taken from a Regal map of San Jose and
surrounding areas. Negatives of photos taken after 1965 include written
descriptions. Of particular interest in the aerials is a group of photographs taken
between 1958 and 1963, which are paired with photographs of the same areas taken
during the early 1990s, showing the development of the area from agriculture to
industry and commercial endeavors.
A small sub-set of the collection includes photographs of Arnold del Carlo and the
Del Carlo family. Records from Del Carlo's business are also found in this portion
of the collection.
The Del Carlo collection is arranged in three series according to format: Negatives,
Prints, and Papers. These divisions are primarily based on the way the materials are
housed, and are the order in which the collection arrived at the Sourisseau Academy.
None of the materials in the collection were re-arranged.
Arrangement of the Arnold Del Carlo Photograph Collection
The papers are arranged into three series: Negatives, prints, and papers.