Charlotte Brooks (1918-2014)
Introduction | Resources | Image Sampler | Biographical Essay
Charlotte Brooks is a photojournalist who worked for Look magazine from 1951 until 1971. As a sociologist with a camera, she liked to document changes in American life, including politics, health and science, education, families, urban and suburban issues, entertainment, racial conflicts, and women's roles. Her biography is a story of defying the odds, because she achieved her objectives at a time when her gender, religious background, and sexual preference presented her with extra challenges.
The only long-term woman staff photographer in the magazine's nearly thirty-five year run, Brooks came to feel accepted as "one of the guys." She covered the same kinds of issues as the men photographers, while most of her contemporary female colleagues were confined to soft news and the women's pages. Taken together, her 450 photographic assignments for Look form a two-decade long sociological survey of the United States.
The Library of Congress has the largest body of Brooks' work available for research--more than one hundred thousand photographs in the Look Magazine Photograph Collection. This five million-item collection of negatives, transparencies, and contact sheets spans 1937 to 1971, the entire run of the magazine. The jobs from 1955 to 1971 are cataloged by story title and subject in the Prints and Photographs Division online catalog. [See Resources for more information.] The rest of Brooks' archive arrived in 2016.