Senior White House photographer for Time magazine has retired and moved
to Austin, Texas. He has joined the faculty at the University of Texas
School of Journalism and will teach advanced photojournalism this fall.
The archive of his life work is located at the Center for American History
where he has been named a distinguished Fellow. As a steward of his
photographic archive, he invited me to write a monthly column for the
Digital Journalist about the Center's collections.
For the past fifteen years the Center for American History at the University
of Texas has developed its photographic resources through the generous
donations of a number of outstanding photojournalists including Russell
Lee, David Hume Kennerly, Diana Walker, Margaret Sandahl Thomas, Bruce
Roberts, R.C. Hickman, Shel Hershorn, Wally McNamee, and Flip Schulke.
Among our most prestigious donors is Dirck Halstead, editor and publisher
of the Digital Journalist. The photographs in these archives are highly
regarded as visual evidence of events, places, and people that have
shaped and defined the American experience. They preserve a rich social
and cultural record that supports the study and interpretation of history
along with books, maps, manuscripts, newspapers, and other sources.
Photographs enrich the written record, frequently containing information
in a visual form unavailable elsewhere.
Although photographs by themselves are important, they have greater
research value within their archival context. The ability to view a
body of work allows the researcher to make comparisons, study changes
over time, interpret the photographer's intentions and make judgments
about the images. The archives of photojournalists at the Center for
American History are extensive and include work from every phase of
their careers. These collections include prints and negatives, slides,
digital images, contact sheets, tear sheets, and publications in which
their photos appeared.
These archives of photojournalists are an integral component of the
Center's American News Media History Archive which includes the news
clipping and research morgues of the New York Times, the New York Herald
Tribune and the [Hearst] New York Journal-American; the papers of Walter
Cronkite (UPI and CBS), Robert Trout (CBS, NBC and ABC), Sig Mickelson
(CBS), Joseph Wershba (CBS), and Jesse Holman Jones (Houston Chronicle
publisher). The Media Archives supports the curriculum of the University's
College of Communication by providing educational and research opportunities
for students, faculty, visiting scholars, industry professionals as
well as the general public. A list of the news media holdings can be
found at: Media
Archives at the Center for American History.
Collections donated to the Center for American History are housed in
acid-free enclosures and boxes which are then stored in environmentally
controlled stacks to foster their preservation. Following arrangement
and cataloging, descriptions are posted on the Center's
website.These actions make the collection accessible to researchers,
6,500 of whom come to the Center annually.
Some of the photojournalists whose collections are at the Center have
retained the copyrights to their photographic images even though the
prints, negatives, tear sheets, etc. become the physical property of
the University. When researchers request reproductions of images, they
are put in touch with the photographer who decides whether to allow
the photo to be published and whether or not a fee will be charged.
We work with our photojournalists to announce the availability of their
collections for research through press releases, exhibits, and publications.
Recently the Center launched a new book series at the University of
Texas Press called "Focus on American History." This series
is part of the Center's mission to support research and education by
sponsoring publications relating to its collections on the history of
media, including broadcast news, photojournalism, and newspaper history.
Through grant funding, some digitization of photograph collections has
been done. More work in this area is being planned.
In the future issues of the Digital Journalist, this column will be
looking at the state of visual archiving and how important it is to
both the photographer and history.
© Alison Beck
Alison Beck is Associate Director at the University of Texas Center
for American History. She heads the Research & Collections Division,
which is comprised of the Archives and Manuscripts, the Library, and
the Reference Units. She plans and manages projects to preserve and
provide access to the Center's extensive collections of photographs,
publications, manuscripts, newspapers, and sound recordings. These projects
include digital initiatives. Ms. Beck oversees publishing of the Center's