May 12, 2016 Jacob Riis, Pioneering Photographer, Is Subject of Book Discussion

Press Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217
Public Contact: Center for the Book (202) 707-5221

If ever a photographer changed the course of history, it was Jacob A. Riis, a Danish-born immigrant to the United States who found his life’s most important work in the slums of New York City.

In "Jacob A. Riis: Revealing New York’s Other Half: A Complete Catalog of His Photographs" (Yale University Press in association with the Library of Congress and the Museum of the City of New York, 2016), curator Bonnie Yochelson describes how Riis and his camera led to social reforms in early 20th-century America.

Yochelson will discuss and sign her book on Monday, May 23, at noon in the Mary Pickford Theater, located on the third floor of the Library of Congress James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. This Books & Beyond event is co-sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and the Interpretive Programs Office in conjunction with the Library exhibition "Jacob Riis: Revealing How The Other Half Lives." The exhibition is on view through Sept. 5, 2016, in the South Gallery on the second level of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building. An online version is available.

The book event is free and open to the public; no tickets are required.

Yochelson has worked on her project for more than two decades, performing research at five major repositories: the Library of Congress, the Museum of the City of New York, the New-York Historical Society, the New York Public Library and the Museum of South West Jutland in Denmark. Yochelson’s novel thesis is that Riis was a radical who had no great skill or ambition as a photographer; he merely used photographs to advance his ideas.

The 336-page hardcover book is the first comprehensive study and complete catalogue of Riis’ images. The book contains more than 600 images and is available for $65 in the Library of Congress Shop in the Thomas Jefferson Building. Credit-card orders are taken at (888) 682-3557 or

Bonnie Yochelson is a former curator of prints and photographs at the Museum of the City of New York and an art historian specializing in photography. Her books include "Alfred Stieglitz New York" and "Berenice Abbott: Changing New York, The Complete WPA Project."

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PR 16-089
ISSN 0731-3527