Arthur Rothstein photographs, 1848-2000

Arthur Rothstein photographs, 1848-2000, (bulk 1932-1985)
4,711 photographic prints.
812 negatives.
The collection is made up of ten series: FSA, China, Other Countries, Politicians and Presidents, Life-United States, Utah, Negatives, Photographs-Other Creators, Professional Papers, and Personal Papers. Series I-VIII consist of photographic prints and negatives, while Series IX-X contain printed material, correspondence, ephemera, and some photographic material, including personal photographs.
Finding Aid
Finding aid available online. See Online Link.
This collection contains the photographs, negatives, contact sheets, correspondence, printed material, and research files of and about American photographer Arthur Rothstein (1915-1985). Photographic material comprises the core of this collection, and spans Rothstein's entire career as a photographer for the Farm Security Administration (hereafter FSA), Look magazine, the United States Army Signal Corps and Office of War Information, the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, Parade magazine, and the Utah Oral History Institute. The majority of photographic material consists of black and white silver gelatin prints, and some color negatives and prints.
Biographical / Historical Note
Arthur Rothstein was born in New York City in 1915 and became one of the most prolific and influential photographers of the 20th century. The broad scope of his work parallels that of American life from the Great Depression through the Reagan years, as well as international events from post-War famine in China to May Day in Moscow's Red Square at the height of the Cold War. From Welsh coal miners to the Reichstag in ruins, to the unique documentation of the Jewish refugee population in Shanghai after World War II, it was said of Arthur Rothstein that he went everywhere, saw everything and brought his camera.
Arthur Rothstein was a gifted student, graduating from Stuyvesant High School and enrolling in Columbia College at age sixteen as a chemistry major. He developed an interest in photography from the technical side, working with film development techniques and eventually becoming a founding member of the camera club at Columbia. Upon graduation he was offered a job by Columbia economist Roy Stryker. Stryker had been asked by colleagues in the Roosevelt administration to form a group of documentary photographers to work within what eventually became known as the Farm Security Administration. In addition to Arthur Rothstein, the FSA photographers included Dorothea Lange, Ben Shahn, Walker Evans, Gordon Parks, Russell Lee, Carl Mydans, John Vachon and Marion Post Walcott, among others. Together they produced some of the defining images of the 20th century. Many of the works in this collection are among them.
This collection is available for use by appointment in the Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University. For further information and to make an appointment, please call (212) 854-4110 or email
Manuscript/Archive Manuscript/Archive
Acquired On
May 3, 2012
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