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New Resource List: Newspaper Photograph Morgues

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Crowd listens outside radio shop at Greenwich and Dey Sts. for news on President Kennedy. Photo by O. Fernandez for World Telegram & Sun, 1963 Nov. 22.

Historic news photographs offer an immediacy and perspective on past events that make them among the most popularly requested items in our collections.

The Prints & Photographs Division’s New York World-Telegram & the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection is a case in point.  Consisting of an estimated one million photographs that the newspaper assembled between the 1890s and 1967 (chiefly 1920 to 1967), this newspaper photo “morgue” is typical of the files that newspapers maintain of images that either were published or were believed to have some future publication potential.

Newsroom of the New York Times. Photo by Marjory Collins, 1942.

Other repositories hold similarly rich newspaper photo morgues, often with a local or regional emphasis that is not represented in the Library of Congress holdings.  To help you find newspaper photograph collections held by other institutions, we recently added to our Web site a new resource list, “Newspaper Photograph Morgues.”  The list cites public institutions in the United States and Canada that have custody of at least one newspaper photograph morgue—more than forty institutions in all.  Archivists at many repositories contributed information, with the newest entries provided by the Society of American Archivists’ Visual Materials section members.

If you need to know where you can find the photo files of a particular newspaper, such as the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, or you wonder where you could locate historic photographs from a specific city, such as Montreal or Newark, New Jersey, this list will help you locate the institutions to contact. And if you have information to add, please let us know!

Learn more:

  • View a list maintained by the Newspaper & Current Periodical Reading Room, citing resources and locations for newspaper archives:  “Newspaper Archives/Indexes/Morgues

Comments (3)

  1. Many times, in the effort to tidy work spaces, or during moves, important historical photographs are lost or destroyed. A lot of times, the folks who find these photos don’t realize their signficance, either because they are not interested in history, or because they do not appear to have any value. Maybe these photos are not necessarily the equivalent to the holy grail, but they could prove useful in telling a story to a future generation. This new resource list is great! Whomever worked on it did a great job.

    I a public affairs and photojournalist for the U.S. Army (and as someone who loves history), and as soon as I post this comment, I will add this link to my favorites. Thanks for sharing.

  2. When I saw the picture of those people in front of that store. My first thought was that it was a picture from the Great Depression Era, but when I read the information below the picture… I thought, boy I was 13 years old and our school class in San Antonio, TX was listening to our teacher’s radio listening… just like those people.

  3. Liz– Thank you for the compliment, and most especially for understanding how important it is to save this kind of documentary photography. Even though it took quite a few hours, I especially enjoyed compiling this checklist because “people power” was involved. No single “google” search pulls up all these news photo morgues–the words in their names and descriptions vary too much. In 1994, Marcy Silver Flynn made lots of phone calls and tracked down 27 morgues in public institutions. In 2003, visual material archivists at the University of Kentucky and Center for American History found more morgues to expand the coverage. By 2010-11, I could poll colleagues through e-mail and follow up on clues to track down even more newspaper photos now in public hands. Plus many (many) internet searches!

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