The Thomas Warren Sears Photograph Collection documents examples of the design work of Thomas Warren Sears (1880-1966), a landscape architect and amateur photographer from Brookline, Massachusetts. Sears, who was based for most of his career in Philadelphia, designed a variety of different types of landscapes ranging from private residences, schools, and playgrounds to parks, cemeteries, and urban housing developments located primarily in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York. In addition to some of Sears' design work, images in the collection document Sears' domestic and foreign travels, design inspirations, and family. The collection includes over 4,800 black and white negatives and glass lantern slides dated circa 1899 to 1930. While most images show private and public gardens, there are a significant number of unidentified views and views photographed in Europe during two trips he took there in 1906 and 1908. Few images are captioned or dated. In addition, there are over 50 plans and drawings, most notably for Balmuckety in Pikesville, Maryland and Reynolda in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and 3 monographs by or about Sears.
The collection primarily includes photographs of Limba peoples taken by anthropologist Simon Ottenberg during field research in northern Sierra Leone within Bafodea Town, the capital of Wara Wara Bafodea Chiefdom, and Guinea, from October 1978 through July 1980. The collection also includes photographs taken while conducting field research at an Afikpo village-group, in southeastern Nigeria, from January 30, 1988 to February 5, 1988 and in 1992.