One of the most fascinating and enjoyable aspects of research with visual materials is the wide variety of information you can learn from a single image, from the obvious to the unexpected. A photographic portrait, for example, has a primary job of showing you what someone looks like. But beyond that, you could learn about hairstyles and clothing of the era. What does the expression or clothing suggest about the occasion the photo was taken for – was it for a solemn event; was it candid or posed? What was its purpose – for a publication or a family photo? Looked at together, multiple photos taken by a single photographer can indicate something of their style, their studio set-up, their equipment. And that is just the beginning.
All of this also applies when looking at an entire collection – there is always more than one story to be uncovered. The U.S. News & World Report (USN&WR) Magazine Photograph Collection would suggest, by its title, that the photos in it were taken for the magazine, and that they would feature images related to American and world news. And they do! But amongst the nearly 1.2 million original 35 mm and 2 1/4 inch negatives (primarily black & white) and 45,000 contact sheets, taken between 1952 and 1986, there is so much more.
Join me for a virtual presentation on Thursday, Feb. 3 (details at the bottom of the post) to see another side of the USN&WR collection – its decades long documentation of the changing face of Washington, D.C., as captured by the magazine’s staff photographers. Below, we see a photographer at work, perched high up on a walkway around the dome of the Library of Congress Jefferson Building. The ongoing construction on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol continues in the background.
Our capital city continues to evolve and the photos from this collection document brand new construction adjacent to as well as supplanting historic buildings; new museums and memorials; the massive installation of the Metro system under the city, and, of course, renovations, expansions and seemingly endless construction of both commercial and government buildings. A small sampling of the collection has been and is currently being digitized. Enjoy some examples below and sign up for the presentation to see and learn more!
- Register for the free, virtual presentation on Thursday, Feb. 3 at 7pm EST of The Changing Face of Washington, D.C. through the U. S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection.
- Read a research guide about the U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection.
- Explore the continually growing digitized portion of the U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection through the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog.