Press Release
Press Release · Tuesday, December 21, 1999

Press Release
December 21, 1999
"Picturing the Century: Part II to Open at the National Archives

Washington, DC. . . On Friday, March 24, 2000, the National Archives and Records Administration will open Part II of "Picturing the Century: 100 Years of Photography from the National Archives" in the Circular Gallery of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. The new version of the show features 130 new black and white and color selections from the National Archives collection of more than 9 million images. This major exhibition, which is free and open to the public, will be on display through July 4, 2001. The National Archives Building is located on Constitution Avenue, between 7th and 9th Streets, NW, Washington, DC. (The National Archives Circular Gallery will be closed from February 22, through March 23, for the installation of "Picturing the Century: Part II.")

Arranged chronologically, these photographs depict American life throughout the 20th century. There are pictures of milestone events such as the construction of the Empire State Building, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the first man on the moon, but the exhibit also highlights the social changes that effected the everyday life of ordinary people over of the last century. Faces of Americans young and old, at work and at play, weave a rich tapestry that tells stories of diversity, ingenuity, creativity, and perseverance. These images include:

  • immigrants arriving at Ellis Island in 1908;
  • women railroad workers posing with their sledgehammers during World War I;
  • doctors in Creston, Iowa performing an operation in 1924;
  • a South Dakota farmer enduring a Dust Bowl storm;
  • families gathering around their radios and later, their television sets.

"Picturing the Century" features eight portfolios of noted photographers, well represented in the holdings of the National Archives. Among their works are images so famous that they are permanently etched in our minds and many have become interchangeable with the event or place itself. Other images are little known, some never having been publicly displayed before. The portfolios photographers are:

  • Lewis Wicks Hine (1874-1940) whose famous photographs of children became an instrument of social reform. Included are heartbreaking photographs of a six year old field worker and a young fiddler on the streets of Belgrade during World War I.
  • George W. Ackerman (1884-1962) whose 40-year career at the Department of Agriculture yielded more than 50,000 photographs of rural America. Ackerman took photographs such as farm women showing off their new hats and a Connecticut father and his three sons doing their morning chores.
  • Walter Lubken (1881-1960), a photographer for the U.S. Reclamation Service who documented technological and social progress in the west during the early 20th century. Lubken's photos of street scenes, homesteaders, and irrigation project workers vividly capture life in the early 20th century American West.
  • Dorothea Lange (1895-1965), whose photographs became synonymous with the Great Depression is represented by images of the unemployed and migratory farm workers. Also on display are two of Lange's photographs taken for the War Relocation Authority that show the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
  • Charles Fenno Jacobs (1904-1975) who became part of Edward Steichen's Naval Aviation Photographic Unit in World War II that documented the aviation activities of the U.S. Navy, including female factory workers in California, and life aboard the battleship U.S.S. New Jersey.
  • Ansel Adams (1902-1984), one of the most celebrated photographers of all time who photographed the American West for the Department of Interior. The second half of "Picturing the Century" will feature four new original, signed Ansel Adams photographs, including a 1941 portrait of a Navajo girl from Canyon de Chelle, Arizona, and a view of the Grand Canyon taken from the South Rim in 1941.
  • Yoichi Okamoto (1915-1985), served at White House photographer for President Lyndon Johnson. His photographs of Johnson, his advisors, and visitors still serve as models for White House photographers.
  • Danny Lyon (1942-), one of the most creative documentary photographers of the late 20th century, photographed the Rio Grande Valley and the Chicano barrio of South El Paso, Texas, for the Environmental Protection Agency's DOCUMERICA project.

Other photographs in the exhibition include Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir in Yosemite National Park; a panoramic view of the National Mall from the Washington Monument in 1916; World War I doughboys fighting in France; workers packing oysters in Bivalve, New Jersey in 1926; Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill relaxing at Roosevelt's Presidential retreat in 1943; and Jackie Kennedy playing with young John F. Kennedy, Jr. in 1962.

A catalogue of the exhibition, published in conjunction with the University of Washington Press, is available for $19.95 in the National Archives Museum shop.

For additional PRESS information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (301) 837-1700 or by e-mail.


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