Photojournalism and the Presidency
News to History: Photojournalism and the Presidency
Selections from the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History
February 15, 2013 - October 1, 2013
“Imagine someone combing through my photographs of President Obama in 2510. That really makes me realize that this is visual history I am recording with my camera.”
—Pete Souza, photojournalist and official White House photographer for President Barack Obama
The Briscoe Center for American History began actively collecting news photography archives in the early 1990s, and in the years since has gathered one of the country’s most significant collections of American photojournalism. The center’s collections include the archives of over thirty nationally recognized photojournalists, including three Pulitzer Prize winners: Eddie Adams, David Hume Kennerly, and Lucian Perkins. These extensive photojournalism collections document key national and international newsmakers and events and include work published in Time, Life, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, Vanity Fair, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. In addition to published prints, the center collects unpublished photographic material such as slides, negatives, and contact sheets, as well as non-photographic materials like letters, diaries, tear sheets, and three dimensional artifacts. The combination of these materials provides researchers and historians with unparalleled primary source evidence for interpreting history.
While the Briscoe Center’s photojournalism collections document the range of American life—subject coverage includes Congress and politics, the civil rights movement, entertainment, the Vietnam War, and sports—perhaps foremost among its subject strengths is the American Presidency from the mid-20th century to the present. Today, the Briscoe Center preserves the largest collection of photographs of the U.S. Presidency outside of Washington D.C., covering every Presidential administration from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Barack Obama and documenting the entire scope of the job, from campaigns and Presidential transitions to press conferences and international diplomacy.
News to History showcases the Briscoe Center’s Presidential photographic resources, highlighting the thirteen Presidential administrations from the 1930s to the present. In addition, the exhibit features images of then-current events and personalities that defined each President’s tenure, capturing the interaction of each President with their times while spotlighting the Briscoe Center’s non-Presidential news photography.
Did You Know…
Considering the relatively recent invention of photography, it is surprising to some to learn that only eight Presidents were never photographed during their lifetime. However, in-depth coverage did not really begin until Roosevelt. Edward Steichen to Lyndon Baines Johnson: “Just think what it would mean if we had such a photographic record of Lincoln’s Presidency.”