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Guide to the Arnold Eagle photographs, 1938-1962, undated

Collection Overview

Repository

New School Collections

Collection Identifier

NA.0004.01

Creator - Photographer

Eagle, Arnold

Title

Arnold Eagle photographs, 1938-1962, undated, (Bulk, 1940-1949)

Extent

1.4 linear ft: 2 boxes, 5 folders

Language of Materials note

English

Summary

Arnold Eagle (1909-1992) emigrated to New York from Hungary in 1929. He became a documentary photographer in the 1930s and, in 1945, joined a remarkable roster of photographers hired by Standard Oil of New Jersey to produce a visual record of the benefits of oil in the lives of everyday Americans, and, in the process, creating an extensive photographic record of American life during the 1940s. Later, Eagle's work encompassed subjects ranging from modern dance to corporate workplaces. He also became enamored of filmmaking and worked as a cinematographer and director. In 1955, Eagle joined the faculty of the New School for Social Research, where he taught photography and filmmaking until shortly before his death. The collection consists of black and white photographic prints produced by Eagle, primarily from the 1940s and 1950s. The photos predominantly document landscapes, human labor and machinery at industrial and agricultural sites around the United States, Mexico and Cuba. Industries represented include cabinetry, mining, and mattresses; agricultural operations include sugar cane production.

Preferred Citation note

[Identification of item], [date (if known)], Arnold Eagle photographs, NA.0004.01, box __, folder __, The New School Archives and Special Collections, The New School, New York, New York.

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Biographical note

Arnold Eagle was born in Hungary and immigrated to New York with his family in 1929, at the age of 19. In 1932, Eagle joined the Film and Photo League, an organization devoted to documentary photography and newsreels, and two years later undertook a study of Orthodox Jews on the Lower East Side. Photographs from this study were published in the 1992 book At Home Only With God: Believing Jews and Their Children.

In 1935, Eagle joined the Works Progress Administration, established by the federal government to employ workers during the Great Depression, for whom Eagle produced photographic studies of New York City slums and the 2nd Avenue El (elevated railway). During this period Eagle also ran a photography workshop for the National Youth Administration, a federal agency devoted to vocational training; became an early member of the Photo League, a group dedicated to socially conscious photography; and freelanced for Fortune and the  Saturday Evening Post , among other magazines.

In 1945, Eagle joined a remarkable roster of photographers on a wide-ranging photo-documentary project for the public relations department of Standard Oil of New Jersey. Led for most of its existence (1943-1956) by Roy Stryker, the company's goal was to produce a visual record of the benefits of oil in the lives of everyday Americans. In the process, the project produced an extensive photographic record of American life during the 1940s, created by some of the country's most accomplished photographers.

Around 1947, Stryker sent Eagle to Louisiana to photograph the filmmaker Robert Flaherty at work on a film produced by Standard Oil, Louisiana Story (1948). Eagle gradually won Flaherty's trust and friendship and developed a passion for filmmaking. He served as cinematographer on a feature-length Surrealist movie by Hans Richter,  Dreams That Money Can Buy (1947), and made several documentaries of his own, including  The Pirogue Maker (circa 1949), and a nursing recruitment film,  The Diary of Connie McGregor (1962).

Sometimes conducting business under the name Photography for Industry, Eagle's freelance work included photographing a wide range of subjects, from the dance companies of Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham to promotional work for corporations such as Allied Chemical Dye Corporation.

In 1955, Eagle joined the faculty of the New School for Social Research, where he taught photography and filmmaking until shortly before his death, in 1992.

----

Hagen, Charles. "Arnold Eagle, Cinematographer And Photographer, Is Dead at 82." New York Times (October 27, 1992). Accessed March 8, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/1992/10/27/obituaries/arnold-eagle-cinematographer-and-photographer-is-dead-at-82.html.

Reese, Kay, Mimi Leipzig. "Interviews with ASMP Founders." (Interview and transcript, 1990). American Society of Media Photographers. Accessed February 7, 2016. http://asmp.org/tutorials/arnold-eagle.html#.VrjSN1Ip95g.

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Scope and Contents note

The collection consists of black and white photographic prints produced by Arnold Eagle, primarily in the 1940s and 1950s. The photos predominantly document human labor, machinery and landscapes at industrial and agricultural sites around the United States, Mexico, and Cuba. Industries represented include cabinetry, mining, and mattresses; agricultural operations include sugar cane production.

The collection is divided into three series based upon information (or lack thereof) stamped and written on the back side of the photographs, combined with information gathered about Eagle's career. Many prints bear two or more stamps, sometimes with stamps or other information crossed out. Many also have "no copyright" handwritten on them, most probably written by someone other than Eagle. Some photographs bear both Standard Oil of New Jersey and Photography for Industry (PFI) stamps. It is not known whether Eagle did business as PFI while working for Standard Oil, or, whether photographs produced for Standard Oil were perhaps repurposed for other projects.

The first series includes prints bearing Arnold Eagle's stamp that were probably taken by Eagle for freelance commissions. Only a few of the commissioning agencies in this series have been identified. When possible, a commissioning agency has been identified and the project title and/or job number has been included in the folder title. When no commissioning agent was identified, the archivist created a title based upon the evident or perceived subject matter of the photographs.

Photographs in the second series bear the stamp of Eagle's company, Photography for Industry. Commissioning agents are usually not identified on these prints. The series also includes a folder of correspondence and print orders.

The photographs in the third series were created while Eagle was on assignment for Standard Oil of New Jersey (SONJ) under the direction of Roy Stryker..

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Arrangement note

The collection is arranged into three series:

I.
General
II.
Photograph for Industry (PFI)
III.
Standard Oil of New Jersey

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

New School Collections - 2016-05-13

66 Fifth Avenue
lobby
New York, NY, 10011
212.229.5942
archivist@newschool.edu

Preferred Citation note

[Identification of item], [date (if known)], Arnold Eagle photographs, NA.0004.01, box __, folder __, The New School Archives and Special Collections, The New School, New York, New York.

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research use. Please contact archivist@newschool.edu for appointment.

Use Restrictions

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the New School Archives and Special Collections. Please contact: archivist@newschool.edu.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated to the New School Archives in 2009 by the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The photographs had been dropped off at the museum by a neighbor a decade prior to transfer. No additional information about the source or compiler of this collection has been identified.

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Related Materials

The Standard Oil (New Jersey) Collection is held by the University of Louisville Photographic Archives. Another collection is held by the Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas, Austin. Arnold Eagle's papers and films related to filmmaker Hans Richter are held by the Getty Research Institute.

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Keywords for Searching Related Subjects

Corporate Name(s)

  • Standard Oil Company of New Jersey.

Genre(s)

  • Photographs.

Occupation(s)

  • Photographers.

Personal Name(s)

  • Flaherty, Robert Joseph, 1884-1951
  • Stryker, Roy Emerson, 1893-1975

Subject(s)

  • Photography.

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Collection Inventory

I. General 1938-1962, undated 

Box Folder
Photographic print orders and related correspondence, 1956-1957 

Photographic print orders for magazines and newspapers--mostly probably for photographs of Royal Danish Ballet performances.

1 1
Arnold Eagle on set during filming of Diary of Connie McGregor (16mm film b&w, 30 minute), 1962 

Photograph of Eagle on set of career recruitment film for nurses.

1 3
Bronx Community Board meeting, school scenes, child's painting, undated 
2 2
Cape Cod (Truro or Provincetown), Massachusetts, undated 
1 4
Cars and airplane, undated 
1 5
Children and family scenes, undated 
2 3
Cities Service Company by Robert Issar: Auto body shop, undated 

Bears a stamp crediting the photo to Robert Issar, as well as an Arnold Eagle stamp.

1 22
Crowds in theater and at monument, 1940s 
1 6
Crystalline formations, undated 
1 7
Driving and urban scenes [contact sheets], undated 
1 8
Factory (job 1044 and job 1022), undated 
1 9
2 4
Fortune magazine: Auction house and festive summer outdoor scenes, 1946, undated 
1 23
Haberdasher, undated 
1 10
Hawaii, 1938, 1948-1949, undated 
1 11
International Movie Producer's Service: Movie shoot (possibly Arnold Eagle directing), undated 
1 24
Landscapes, undated 

Includes aerial photograph of Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

1 12
Landscapes and crowd, possibly Latin America, undated 
1 13
Latin America [contact sheets] (job 2202), undated 
1 14
Man bowling [contact sheets], undated 
1 15
Mexico, undated 
1 16
Mining operation, undated 
1 17
New York Harbor/Fulton Fish Market[?], undated 
1 18
Photography and movie shoots, possibly Latin America, undated 
1 19
2 5
Portrait of young couple, undated 
2 6
Portraits, undated 
1 20
Portraits from various industries and office, undated 
2 7
Prints of various industries, undated 
2 1
Two Columbus Circle during construction of Edward Durell Stone's "Lollipop Building," 1962 
1 2
Washington Square Park concert, undated 
1 21

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II. Photography for Industry (PFI) 1943-1947, undated 

Box Folder
Box factory (job 709), undated 
1 26
Cuba: Sugar research, undated 
1 27
2 8
Executives meeting (job 714), undated 
1 28
Hawaii: Sugar cane cutting (job 294), undated 
1 29
Home for unwed mothers (job 9854), undated 
2 9
Mag Stories: Elderly couple in front of house; people reading in library (job 166?), undated 
1 30
2 10
Man constructing kitchen cabinet (job 541), undated 

Includes job sheet and print order.

1 31
Prints of a variety of subjects, undated 
1 25
Sealy [mattress factory?] (job 665), undated 
1 32-34
Stanley Home Products [?] (job 238), undated 
1 35
Textile factory (job 492), undated 
1 36
Vermont, 1943 
1 37
Vermont, 1947 (job 1028) 
1 38
Vermont, 1947 (job 1051) 
1 39
Vermont, 1947 (assorted job numbers) 
1 40
Vermont, 1947 and undated (no job numbers) 
2 11

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III. Standard Oil of New Jersey 1943-1949 

In some cases, photographs do not bear the Standard Oil stamp, but have been identified as belonging to a set of photographs taken for the company. In other cases, photographs may bear both stamps for Photography for Industry (Eagle's company) and Standard Oil.

Box Folder
Bayonne, New Jersey. Esso Tanker Turn Around and Docking Scenes in Constable Hook, 1945 
2 12
British Columbia, Canada, 1947 
2 13
Highstown, New Jersey. Produce Auction: Two farmers talking, between 1943-1947 
n_7 14
Lexington, New York. Merritt Cross unloads his milk at the Lexington Creamery, probably between 1943-1947 
n_7 15
Louisiana, probably 1946 
2 14
Maine[?], between 1943 and 1947 
2 15
Oklahoma farmer, E.C. Key, and soil conservation agent G.C. Gardner, examine gulley in pasture, between 1943-1947 
n_7 16
Portrait of executive in office, between 1943-1947 
2 16
Puerto Rico, between 1943-1947 
n_7 17
Washington: Fire lookout station, 1947 
2 17
n_7 18

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Collection Guide Last Updated: 10/25/2016

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