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American Women: Resources from the Prints & Photographs Collections

New York World-Telegram & Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection

John Bottega, photographer. Helen Gurley Brown. 1964. New York World-Telegram & Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

The New York World-Telegram & Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection (NYWTS) (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. Consisting of images made by staff photographers and, more prevalently, images gathered from commercial studios and wire services, the collection is divided into a biographical section and a subject/geographical section.

The collection has proven to be a valuable source of images of people, including:

  • women legislators
  • actresses
  • authors
  • athletes
  • other celebrities
  • people who attracted press notice because of their involvement in events such as crimes, scandals, contests, etc.

To give an example of the range of coverage found in the collection: there are twenty-one folders of images relating to the career of Amelia Earhart, ranging from the folder labeled rather generally by New York World staff “Earhart, Amelia—Aviatrix. Dead. Flights,” which holds twenty-seven photos on this subject, to the folder more precisely labeled “Earhart, Amelia—Aviatrix. Dead. Welcomes. Paris, France,” which contains a single photo.

The subject/geographical portion of the file yields intriguing glimpses of women's involvement in the civil rights movement and local, national, and international politics. It also highlights aspects of family life, popular culture, and consumerism, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s.

The manner in which the newspaper's staff chose to caption the photographs and the headings under which staff filed them (which are retained both on the versos of the photos and in the division's finding aid) are sometimes as revealing of contemporary activities and concerns as are the photos themselves.

Searching the Collection

Most of the images that researchers or staff have requested for reproduction can be searched in the online catalog. The collection does not have its own listing in the online catalog but items from it can be found by searching the phrase “New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection” (or the call number code nywts) in combination with subjects or names of interest.

To look for images for which no online record exists, on-site researchers can request to have folders retrieved from their off-site storage location. Five business days are needed to allow time for retrieval and preparation of the images. Up to ten folder headings can be requested per day. To make a request:

  • consult the finding aid (see Further Information), which reproduces all of the headings New York World staff assigned to the folders in which they filed images. The finding aid is also available in printed form in the Prints & Photographs Reading Room. The finding aid is in two parts: Biographical (fourteen notebooks in the printed version) and Subject/Geographical (three notebooks in the printed version).
  • submit a special New York World Telegram & Sun Collection call slip to have desired folders retrieved

Sample Images