Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Guide to the Arnold Del Carlo Photograph Collection, 1948-1990
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (457.86 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Indexing Terms
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement of the Arnold Del Carlo Photograph Collection

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Arnold Del Carlo Photograph Collection
    Date (inclusive): 1948-1990
    Collection Number: 11
    Creator: Del Carlo, Arnold
    Extent: Containers: 2 filing cabinets, 12 binders, 102 boxes

    Volume: 83 cubic feet Selected online items available
    Repository: Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History, San Jose State University
    San Jose, California
    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 and anniversaries.
    Language: English

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    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.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Arnold Del Carlo Photograph Collection, Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History, San Jose State University, San Jose, California

    Acquisition Information

    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.

    Biographical Note

    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 stayed in.
    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 advertisements.
    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 photography.
    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 the Park . 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.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms may be used to index this collection

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Business enterprises -- Photographs -- 20th Century
    Del Carlo, Arnold
    General Motors Corporation
    International Business Machines Corporation
    Portraits -- 20th Century
    San Jose (Calif.)
    San Jose (Calif.) -- Photographs -- 20th Century
    Santa Clara County (Calif.)
    Santa Clara County (Calif.) -- Photographs -- 20th Century
    Santa Clara Valley (Calif.)
    Santa Clara Valley (Calif.) -- Photographs -- 20th Century
    San Jose (Calif.) -- Aerial photographs -- 20th Century
    Weddings -- Photographs -- 20th Century

    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 areas.
    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 took place.
    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.