The Robertson and Fresh commercial photographic firm was active in Tampa from 1932 to 1960. William Vernon "Red" Robertson worked in the field taking photographs while Harry Fresh processed and printed the images. Robertson and Fresh produced thousands of pictures that provide an invaluable visual record of the Tampa area from the Depression to the prosperous post-World War II era.
The bulk of USF's Robertson and Fresh collection came from a large collection of negatives acquired by the late Hampton Dunn for use in his Tampa: A Pictorial History; he later donated the collection to USF's Tampa Library. When Dunn donated the negatives to the library they were still in the large, multi-drawer metal cabinet that Robertson and Fresh had used to store them. Unfortunately, due to acetic acid decomposition accelerated by years of storage in conditions of high heat and humidity, many of the original negatives had disintegrated beyond recovery. Between 1994 and 1995, Charles Brown, president of the Tampa Historical Society, arranged for the printing of the approximately 1,500 surviving Robertson and Fresh negatives housed in Special Collections. Subsequently, Mrs. Verna Lee Lupo, daughter of William Robertson, donated several hundred additional negatives for integration into the library’s Robertson and Fresh Collection. Mr. Bob Baggett of Bob Baggett Photography generously provided the library with preservation prints of these negatives, many of which were in imminent danger of deterioration. Other prints of Robertson and Fresh images came from the Tony Pizzo Collection.
This digital collection was made possible by a generous gift from the Frank E. Duckwall Foundation in 1996.