Portfolio 2: Pictorial Journalism
The first photograph published in an American newspaper-- actually a photomechanical reproduction of a photograph--appeared in the Daily Graphic on March 4, 1880. Before that time it was common practice for American editors to enlist artists to sketch and report on news events, from steamboat explosions to the battles of the Civil War. It was not until 1919, with the launching of New York's Illustrated Daily News, that American newspapers began to feature photographs routinely. The lighter cameras and "faster" lenses introduced in the 1920s brought about a revolution in news photography, ushering in the age of photojournalism.
The Library preserves several premiere archives of pictorial journalism, including several thousand drawings by Civil War artist-correspondents, the studio archives of several early news photographic agencies such as the Bain News Service and the National Photo Company, and the morgues of such publications as Look magazine, the New York World Telegram and Sun, and U.S.News and World Report. These collections offer historians vivid documentation of the newsworthy events of yesterday, as well as providing insights into journalistic practice and biases.
Alfred Waud. Wounded Escaping from the Burning Woods in the Wilderness, May 6, 1864. Pencil and Chinese white on brown paper.
If not the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, the Battle of the Wilderness may have
been the most terrifying. It was fought in early May,
1864, in the dense, dry pine forests south of the
Rapidan River and west of Fredericksburg, Virginia. In
his sketch Waud captured the panic overwhelming
disabled soldiers on the ground and the ambulance corps
charged with their care, as brushfires, ignited by gun
and cannonfire, burned out of control. Waud was one of
the most prolific and talented of the artists assigned
to the field by the editors of Harper's Weekly
magazine. More than eleven hundred sketches by Waud
are among the Library's collection of Civil War
drawings, prints, and photographs that make up the
nation's most comprehensive visual record of that war.
(Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan)
D.B. Woodbury and Alexander Gardner, for the Mathew B.
Brady Studio. Military Bridge, Across the Chickahominy,
Virginia, Maryland, June 1862. Albumen silver print (published 1865).
"A spirit in my feet said 'go,' and I went," is how Brady
later explained his motivation for taking his photographic
practice into the field during the Civil War. The
grandfather of American war correspondents, Brady used the
fortune he had made from his successful New York portrait
studio to place dozens of photographers, like Alexander
Gardner, in various parts of the theater of operations
during the war. By his own estimate Brady spent nearly
$100,000 on this pioneering endeavor. After suffering
great losses in the financial panic of 1873, Brady was
temporarily rescued from financial ruin by an act of
Congress authorizing the purchase of his daguerreotypes for
the nation. An archive of over 7,500 of the Brady Studio's
Civil War glass negatives came to the Library in 1943.
William Glackens. A Street Scene at Tampa City
. Gouache and ink over graphite on wove paper, 1898.
The Spanish-American War, though brief, was a fruitful
source of enduring legends in American military history,
from the explosion of the battleship Maine in Havana harbor
to Theodore Roosevelt's famous charge at San Juan Hill. In
this drawing by the young painter William Glackens, American
troops parade through Tampa City en route to transport ships
waiting to take them to Cuba. Dispatched to the front by
Colliers' magazine to cover the war, Glackens was one of a
number of artists of New York's Ash-Can school who made a
living early in their careers as artist reporters. The
drawings produced on this assignment were donated to the
Library by the artist's son.
(Gift of Ira Glackens)
Photographer unknown (National Photo Company). President Calvin Coolidge Facing Press Photographers,
1924. Recent gelatin silver print from original glass
Calvin Coolidge entered the White House at the dawn of the
"communications age." The early twentieth century saw the
rise of photographic agencies like the
Bain News Service,
the National Photo Company, and others, formed in the early
years of this century to satisfy the increasing demand for
magazine and newspaper pictures. Acutely aware of the
potential usefulness of the press to his administration's
goals, Coolidge became one of the most photographed
presidents of the era. Archives of both the Bain and
National Photo firms, which combined total nearly 250,000
negatives and prints, are among the Library's extensive
(National Photo Company Collection)
Photographer Unknown (Bain News Service). Emma Goldman on a Street Car, 1917. Recent gelatin silver print from
original glass negative.
This candid photograph was probably taken during one of the
many strikes or antiwar demonstrations in which the
anarchist and feminist was active during World War I. Two
years later, at the height of the Red Scare, Goldman was
deported to the Soviet Union, to return in 1934,
disenchanted with the Soviet experiment and with the violent
political repression in Stalin's Russia. No doubt the
photographer saw the irony in the patriotic Uncle Sam poster
visible here behind the feisty ideologue's head.
(Bain News Service Collection)
Walker Evans. Floyd Burroughs' Farm, from Hale and Perry Counties and Vicinity, Alabama, 1935-1936. Gelatin silver prints in two albums.
Evans's unpublished 1936 photographic essay on the homes
and families of three Alabama sharecroppers grew out of an
assignment James Agee was given to write an article on
cotton tenancy for Fortune magazine's "Life and
Circumstances" series. At that time Evans was at the peak
of his artistic powers, but was under contract to the New
Deal's Resettlement Administration. Impressed with Evans's
careful and unsentimental studies of the rural poor, Agee
persuaded the agency to lend Evans to the magazine on the
condition that the photographs produced on the assignment
would become government property. In fact, the photographs
were never published by Fortune, but the collaboration
resulted in the book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.
(Transfer, Office of War Information)
Toni Frissell. Col. Benjamin O. Davis, Air Base at Rametti, Italy, March 1945. Recent gelatin silver print
from original negative.
Davis was commanding officer of the 332d Fighter Pilot Squadron, the only black pilot unit in the American armed services during World War II. He was photographed at the unit's base in southern Italy by Toni Frissell who, after the war, resumed her distinguished career as fashion and portrait photographer for magazines such as Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Life, and Town and Country. When Frissell retired from professional photography in 1971 she donated the archives of her career's work to the Library of Congress. (Gift of the photographer)
James Karales. Civil Rights March, May 1965. Recent gelatin silver print from original negative. Published in Look magazine. [Not currently available due to copyright restrictions.]
During the 1960s the attention of the American public was often drawn to the struggle for civil rights in the United States. Look magazine photographer James Karales captured in epic, haunting terms a moment a watershed event in that struggle: the 1965 march from Selma to Mongomery, Alabama. Three hundred black Americans and many white priests, ministers, nuns, and rabbis participated in the fifty-four mile march to protest and publicize African-Americans' disenfranchisement under discriminatory southern Jim Crow laws. Karales's photograph accompanied an article about the role of organized religion in the desegregation campaign. The Look magazine photographic morgue in the Library's collection totals nearly 5 million photographs, negatives, and transparencies. (Look Magazine Collection. Gift of John and Gardner Cowles)
Photographer unknown (Black Star Agency). Tenth Regiment 7 ARVN Division Infantrymen Awaiting U.S. Helicopters at Ben Tre, Vietnam, January 1970. Recent gelatin silver print from original negative. [Not currently available due to copyright restrictions.]
Vietnamization was the term used for the phased withdrawal of U.S. combat troops in Vietnam and their replacement by native forces (ARVN). Here a newly formed South Vietnamese unit awaits transport to the landing zone of an operation between Saigon and the Cambodian border. The photograph is printed from one of over a million negatives in the archive of U.S. News and World Report magazine. (U.S. News and World Report. Gift of the U.S. News and World Report Corporation)
Danny Lyon. Gonaïves, February 9, 1986. Gelatin silver print, printed in 1989. Copyright Danny Lyon/Magnum Photos, Inc. For any reproduction rights, digital or print, please contact Magnum Photos, 151 W. 25th Street, New York, NY 10001, (212) 929-6000, FAX (212) 929-9325. This photograph is from Danny Lyon's account of the 1986 revolution in Haiti called Merci Gonaïves, a photographer's account of Haiti and the February Revolution, available from D.A P. Book Distributors.
The revolt that ultimately toppled Haitian dictator Jean- Claude ("Baby Doc") Duvalier is believed to have originated in the rural village of Gonaïves, in January 1986. By chance, photographer Danny Lyon was in Haiti at that moment. Long familiar with the people of the island, Lyon published his book Merci Gonaïves, in which this photograph appeared, as a counterpoint to largely superficial media coverage of the event, which had presented the popular revolt as gratuitously and hideously violent. The photographer's journal entry from the day this photograph was taken reads: "Firing continues at night. Outside of Port-au-Prince it is quiet. The Haitians I know believe they have their revolution . . . . Television is discussing events freely for the first time in Haitian history."