Scope and Contents
The collection contains, color and black-and-white photographs, contact sheets, slides, color transparencies, negatives, transcripts, audio tape cassettes, and films documenting the American Petroleum Institute (API) and all its activities. The material in the collection was assembled by API public relations staff from oil industry sources over several years and was used in public relations and educational materials.
The photographs and slides are both original and copy prints are organized according to the organizational structure that API used. The photographs and slides document all aspects of the production of oil, from exploration to drilling, from cracking to refineries, from pipelines to tankers, and from storage tanks to service stations. They also document the numerous products other than gasoline produced by the petroleum industry including: kerosene, liquid propane gas, lubricants, heating oil, and plastics. Additionally, they document the industry's efforts at self-promotion, its stand on environmental issues and energy conservation, its efforts to promote safety in its plants, and its perceived competition from other energy sources, such as gasohol, geothermal energy, solar energy, and nuclear energy. Overall, these images portray the petroleum industry as it saw itself.
The collection also includes general images of petroleum workers, landscape and wildlife scenes, urban settings, vernacular architecture (service stations), railroads, road development, and the industry's crucial role during World War II.
Series 1, Historical Photographs, 1860s-1950s
This series is divided into forty subseries and contains primarily black-and-white photographs, but there are some negatives. Many of the photographs contain captions. The content includes: advertising, lighting and heating, kerosene lamps, lubricants, medicine, aircraft, artwork, equipment, political cartoons, automobiles, terminals, disasters, charts, drilling, portable rigs, rotary rigs, exploration land rush, lighting and stoves, memorials, mining, natural gas, oil company offices, oil fields, pipelines, products, railroads, tank cars, refineries, safety, service stations, teamsters, war, watercraft, and wells.
Series 2, Modern Photographs, 1960s-1980s
The series contains black-and-white and color photographs, negatives and transparencies. The photographs are arranged into topical areas such as diagrams and maps, environment, electricity, exploration, natural gas, pipelines, storage, and wells. The following subjects are represented: artwork, automobiles, trucks, aviation, refueling, buildings, coal, gasification, plants, and mining, surface mining, fields, land reclamation, coastal zone management, corporate public service, educational programs, crude oil, and deepwater ports.
Series 3, Miscellaneous Photographs, 1900s-1970s
The photographs consist of black-and-white copy prints, color transparencies, negatives, and slides for a variety of subjects: pipelines, platforms, service stations, and wells. The names of major oil and petroleum companies, such as Shell, Standard Oil, Sun Oil, and Savory Oil, are represented.
Series 4, Slides, 1970s-1980s
The slides are divided into two subseries: slides presentations and slides by subject/topic. The slides presentations were assembled and presented by API staff. In some instances there are slides, transcripts, and audio tape cassettes for the presentations. The presentations have been arranged alphabetically by title. The subject slides are arranged alphabetically by topic/subject and are identified. Only some of the subject-related slides are dated. The miscellaneous slides contain such images as the Space Shuttle Columbia, sunsets, and industrial scenes.
Series 5, Photograph Albums, 1903-1968 (not inclusive)
This series includes two photograph albums: one that focuses on aviation, bulk plants, chemistry, and disasters and the other on an advertising series from 1953. The first album consists of black-and-white copy prints that are subdivided according to subject. Some of the photographs have captions. The album containing the advertising series is comprised of black-and-white copy prints with the corresponding print ad that was used. The print ads vary in size and amount of text. The advertising series addresses a variety of topics.
Series 6, Scripts for Films, 1955-1978
The scripts consist of final transcripts and drafts for various films commissioned by API. In some instances there are accompanying photographs.
Series 7, Publications, 1959-1990
This series includes publications from various petroleum companies such as the
Petroleum Facts and Figures
and accompanying slides from the API library that were featured in articles.
Series 8, Films, 1960s
The films consist of 34 reels of motion picture film. The films are production elements (negatives, track negatives, and A and B rolls). It is not possible to make film elements available for research use. This portion of the collection has not been processed.