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American Women: Resources from the Prints & Photographs Collections

Photojournalism Collections

Paulina Longworth & cameramen. 1925 March 28. National Photo Company Collection. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

The first photograph photomechanically reproduced in an American newspaper appeared in the Daily Graphic on March 4, 1880. It was not until 1919, with the launching of New York's Illustrated Daily News, that American newspapers began to feature photographs routinely.

The Prints & Photographs Division's collections provide an opportunity to examine photojournalism by, for, and featuring women through several stages of the development of the field, from the news photos issued by George Grantham Bain (sometimes referred to as the “father of news photography”) to the political and lifestyle documentation produced by photographers working for Look magazine and U.S. News and World Report. Because the collections often contain images that were published at the time and images that were not selected for publication, they offer documentary evidence for exploring editorial practices and mass communication messages in different eras.

The following unique "Photojournalism Collections" are highlighted in these sections of the guide:

  • George Grantham Bain Collection
    The archive of one of America's earliest news photo agencies, this collection (100,000 photographic prints and negatives, ca. 1910-22), provides evidence of the many ways in which women made the news in the early decades of the twentieth century. 
  • Frances Benjamin Johnston Collection
    Johnston's early forays into photojournalism, along with photographs from other stages of her varied career, family photographs and keepsakes, and images by other women photographers, make up this collection (25,000 items, ca. 1864-1947, bulk 1897-1927).
  • National Photo Company Collection
    This collection (80,000 photographic prints and negatives, 1850-1945, bulk 1909-32) documents many aspects of Washington, D.C., life and, to a limited extent, events elsewhere in the United States and the world.
  • Toni Frissell Collection
    This collection (340,000 items, ca. 1930-69) includes 270,000 black-and-white negatives, 42,000 color transparencies, and 25,000 enlargement prints, as well as proof sheets.
  • New York World-Telegram & Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection (NYWTS)
    This collection (1,000,000 photographic prints, ca. 1880-1967, bulk 1920-67) offers researchers a rich body of material with which to investigate how this mass-circulation newspaper represented women.
  • Look Magazine Photograph Collection
    This collection (5,000,000 photographs, 1937-71) is the largest single collection in the division's holdings. It includes both color and black-and-white photographs—published and unpublished—accumulated by the magazine during its thirty-four-year history.
  • U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection (USNWR)
    This collection (1,000,000 photographic negatives and 45,000 contact sheets, 1952-86) offers researchers visual documentation for more recent American history that is not comprehensively covered in other Prints and Photographs Division holdings.
  • Bernard Gotfryd Photograph Collection
    The more than 20,000 photographs in the collection (span 1943-1994, bulk 1965-1985) include portraits and events, including Vietnam War demonstrations, drug addiction, labor strikes, politics, theater and fashion, with a particular focus on life in New York City.
  • CQ/Roll Call Photograph Collection
    The approximately 390,000 black-and-white and color photographs in this collection (1950-2005, bulk 1988-2002) were created for use in Roll Call and Congressional Quarterly (CQ), two leading Capitol Hill publications.

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