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Gift of
Milton Rogovin,
Mark Rogovin,
Paula Rogovin,
& Ellen Rogovin Hart

Milton Rogovin Collection

For nearly forty years, Milton Rogovin has photographed people around the world, focusing on men and women at work and in their homes. Weston Naef, Curator of Photography at the J. Paul Getty Museum, has praised Rogovin as the best documentary photographer working in America today.

Influenced by the work of Lewis Hine and Paul Strand, Rogovin began his interest in photography by documenting Buffalo’s store-front churches. He captured the transitory nature of the buildings used for religious services and the emotion of the church services. Later photographs document working-class individuals in a six-block neighborhood of Buffalo’s West Side, home to Puerto Ricans, African Americans, Native Americans, and other ethnic groups. Rogovin began this series in 1972, and rephotographed many of the same people in 1984 and again in 1992, providing a portrait of families over time. In addition, Rogovin has documented the following subjects: Native Americans on reserves in New York; an around the world survey of miners and their families; steel workers before and after plant closings cost them their jobs; teenage pregnancy; and the Yemenis of Lackawanna, Pennsylvania.

This collection of Rogovin’s life’s work consists of 3,200 black and white photographs selected by the photographer and all of the 120mm negatives and contact sheets made during Rogovin’s photographic career. Additional material includes correspondence pertaining to his photographic travels, photographic exhibitions, correspondence with Pablo Neruda, and files relating to Rogovin’s activities which brought him to the attention of the U. S. House Committee on Un-American Activities in the 1950s, video and audio tapes and posters. Rogovin interviewed and taped oral histories of a few of his sitters.

Rogovin has received the prestigious W. Eugene Smith Award for humanistic photography. His work is held by more than 20 institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the International Museum of Photography at the George Eastman House, and the J. Paul Getty Center. His photographs have been widely exhibited, including at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. In 1975 the Albright-Knox Gallery featured an exhibition of Rogovin’s photographs of Buffalo’s West Side which broke all attendance records at the museum.

Rogovin’s photographic archive builds on the Library’s existing strength of social documentary photography and demonstrates the Library’s support of contemporary documentary photography. Continuing in the tradition of masters such as Dorothea Lange, Rogovin’s portraits of workers include universal images of women and minorities, subjects that are frequently overlooked and underrepresented.















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