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Guide to the Bob Adelman photograph collection, circa 1960-1990

Collection Overview

Repository

New School Collections

Collection Identifier

NA.0014.01

Creator - Photographer

Adelman, Bob

Title

Bob Adelman photograph collection, circa 1960-1990, (Bulk, 1970-1984)

Extent

5 linear ft: 7 boxes, 2 binders, 2 oversized folders

Summary

Bob Adelman (1930-2016) took photography classes with Alexey Brodovitch at The New School in the 1950s and became one of the photographers regularly documenting the life of the New School in the 1970s and 1980s. He also taught photography courses at the school. Adelman was one of the most well-known photographers of the Civil Rights Movement. The Bob Adelman photograph collection consists predominantly of black and white photographic prints taken for the New School for Social Research (now The New School) during the late 1970s-early 1980s. The collection also includes a small group of prints representing Adelman's work in documentary journalism, including photographs of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as photographs documenting life in New Orleans and Moscow, and the New York City Housing Authority.

Preferred Citation note

© Bob Adelman. [Identification of item], [date (if known)], Bob Adelman photograph collection, NA.0014.01, box __, folder __, New School Archives and Special Collections, The New School, New York, New York.

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Biographical note

Bob Adelman took photography classes with Alexey Brodovitch at The New School in the 1950s and became one of the photographers regularly documenting the life of The New School in the 1970s and 1980s. [1] He also taught photography courses at the school, including Thinking Images and Innovative Images from 1976 to 1977, and  Photo Reporting from 1985 to 1988. His artfully composed and lively shots provide direct insight into the everyday life on campus, and were used in course catalogs and promotion materials for the school for many years.

A child of Eastern European immigrants, Robert (Bob) Adelman was born in Brooklyn in 1930, and grew up in Far Rockaway, Queens. After graduating from Stuyvesant High School, he graduated from Rutgers University with a bachelor’s degree and from Columbia University with a master’s degree in philosophy. He also studied law at Harvard University. [2]

As a volunteer photographer for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNNC), Adelman's iconic photographs of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, James Baldwin, and of sit-ins and civil rights marches in Selma, Alabama and Washington, D.C., made him one of the most well-known photographers of the civil rights movement. [3] During the 1960s, Adelman also photographed many prominent figures in the New York art world, including Samuel Beckett, Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein. He maintained a lifelong friendship and continued to play chess regularly with Lichtenstein. Adelman moved to Miami Beach, Florida in 1997, where he lived and worked until his death in 2016. Adelman was a prolific writer, authoring 75 books on a range of subjects. [4]

Adelman published his photographs in Look,  Life, and the  New York Times, earning a Guggenheim Fellowship, among many awards. His work will be found in the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, where he was named a consultant photographer in the last two years of his life. [5]

Committed to documenting a broad array of social issues, especially poverty, housing, and education, Adelman worked for the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity. “When I photographed, I was intent on telling the truth as best I saw it and then to help in doing something about it. It was a constant effort not only to document in as honest a way as I could, and to make what I was seeing vivid, but to figure out how to change things,” he explained. [6]

[1] Reinholz, Mary. “Bob Adelman, 85, photographer who covered civil rights, M.L.K.” Villager, March 31, 2016. Accessed June 16, 2017. http://thevillager.com/2016/03/31/bobadelman-85-photographer-who-covered-civil-rights-m-l-k/

[2] Ibid.

[3] Estrin, James. “Bob Adelman: From Civil Rights to Making a Difference.” New York Times, March 21, 2016. Accessed June 16, 2017. https://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/03/21/bob-adelman-civil-rights-obit-photos/

[4] Reinholz, Mary. “Bob Adelman, 85, photographer who covered civil rights, M.L.K.”

[5] Ibid.

[6] Brown-Hinds, Paulette. “Bob Adelman to Lecture and Consult in Photography at Library of Congress.” Black Voice News, August 30, 2014. Accessed June 16, 2017. http://www.blackvoicenews.com/2014/08/30/bob-adelman-to-lecture-and-consult-in-photography-at-library-ofcongress/

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Scope and Contents note

The Bob Adelman photograph collection consists predominantly of black and white photographic prints taken by photographer Bob Adelman for the New School for Social Research (now The New School) during the late 1970s-early 1980s. The university used Adelman's images in print publicity materials, such as course catalogs, without captions or credits except for a general notice in the catalog listing all individuals who had contributed photographic content.

All photographs in the first series fall into the range of roughly 1978-1984. However, while processing the collection archivists observed different dates stamped onto multiple prints of the same image. Some of the prints in the first series are the same images as prints in the New School Photograph Collection (NS.04.01.01) and the New School Marketing and Communications records (NS.03.01.04). Original contact sheets and negatives for some of these duplicate images herein will be found in those other collections.

The second series consists of a small group of prints unrelated to The New School, with a subset representing Adelman's well-known work in documentary journalism, capturing the civil rights movement in the United States, including photographs of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. These were probably taken for magazines and also used in Adelman's book King: The Photobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (2000). Most of these photographs are stamped, but only some are dated. As with the first series, researchers should not use stamped dates as a means to identify the year in which Adelman took the photograph. This cautionary note is especially important for this second series, where photographs which were taken in the early to mid-1960s bear stamps ranging between 1978 and 1983.

Other photographs in the second series document everyday life in New Orleans, images of black Americans in urban and rural settings, and the community activities and services of the New York City Housing Authority. Another series of color snapshots were taken in Moscow, probably around 1990. It has not been established whether the Moscow project was connected to Adelman's teaching at The New School.

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Organization and Arrangement

The collection is arranged in two series:

  1. The New School
  2. Non-New School

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Administrative Information

Finding aid by Agnes Szanyi.

Publication Information

New School Collections - June 21, 2018

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

Preferred Citation note

© Bob Adelman. [Identification of item], [date (if known)], Bob Adelman photograph collection, NA.0014.01, box __, folder __, New School Archives and Special Collections, The New School, New York, New York.

Conditions Governing Access note

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

Use Restrictions

The Bob Adelman photograph collection is covered by a non-exclusive license for non-profit use. To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from The New School Archives. Please contact: archivist@newschool.edu.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Received from Engart LLC, management company on behalf of anonymous donor, December 2016.

Processing Information note

When the Bob Adelman photographs were donated to The New School Archives, the boxes had been separated from a larger run of boxes of prints that had been arranged in alphabetical order. The prints provided to the archives included those alphabetized under "N" for "New School." During processing, it became evident that a number of photographs included in the donation alphabetically preceded and succeeded the New School prints. These included those labeled "Moscow," "Negro Life," "New Orleans," and "New York City Housing Authority." (It was not evident whether these categories had been assigned by Adelman or by others.) Subsequent to the initial donation, the donor supplemented the collection with a group of prints representing Adelman's work in the civil rights movement. The prints in the second series of this collection represent both the pre- and post- "N" prints, as well as the supplemental donation.

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Related Materials

Contact sheets related to the prints in this collection will be found in the New School Marketing and Communications records (NS.03.01.04) Special Projects Office series. Additional and possibly duplicative prints -- although with editorial markings and captions assigned by university public relations staff -- will be found in the New School Photograph Collection (NS.04.01.01). The images integrated into university course catalogs as illustrative elements will be found in the New School course catalogs and bulletins (NS.05.01.01).

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Keywords for Searching Related Subjects

Corporate Name(s)

  • New School for Social Research (New York, N.Y. : 1919-1997).
  • New York City Housing Authority.

Genre(s)

  • Photographs.

Occupation(s)

  • Photographers.

Personal Name(s)

  • King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968
  • X, Malcolm, 1925-1965

Subject(s)

  • Civil rights movement
  • Community development, Urban.
  • Moscow (Russia)--Pictorial works
  • New Orleans (La.)--Pictorial works
  • Student life and customs.
  • Universities and colleges -- New York (State) -- New York.

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Collection Inventory

Series I. The New School late 1970s-1984 

Box Folder
Art exhibition 
1 1
Campus 
2 West 13th Street: Gimbel Art and Design Library 
1 2
65 5th Avenue (Graduate Faculty Building) 
Exterior 
1 3
Interior 
General 
1 4
Lobby 
1 5
Raymond Fogelman Library 
1 6-7
6 1
66 West 12th Street 
Class in Benton Room 
1 8
Class in Orozco Room 
1 9
Courtyard 
1 10
Exterior 
1 11-13
Lobby 
1 14
Skybridge 

As of 2018, this hallway connecting the Alvin Johnson/J. M. Kaplan Hall with the Eugene Lang College building is called Skybridge.

1 15
Wollman Hall 
1 16
Classes and seminars 

The first set of files in this category, "General," depicts students and instructors primarily in conventional classroom settings. These are followed by files where a specific discipline or subject has been identified or surmised by virtue of the setting.

General 
1 17-19
2 1-7
Art and design 
General 
2 8
Fashion design 
2 9-10
Metal, wood, and clay 
2 11
Painting and drawing 
2 12-14
Photography 

Label assigned based on content of photographs.

2 15
Printmaking 
2 16
Sculpture 
2 17-18
Computer lab 
2 19
Connect-Ed 
2 20
Dance 
2 21
Media Studies 

Label assigned based on content of photographs.

3 1-3
Conference or symposium 

Includes photograph of Bryna Sanger.

3 4
Faculty and others 
Unidentified 
3 5-18
4 1-5
6 2
Abel, Reuben 
4 6
Austill, Allen 
4 7
Diamond, Stanley 
4 8
Duncan, John 
4 9
Everett, John R. 
4 10
Fanton, Jonathan F. 
4 11
Festinger, Leon 
4 12
Gordon, David 
4 13
Heilbroner, Robert 
4 14
Hentoff, Nat 

Some of the photographs in this folder were taken in the Benton Room.

4 15
Leeds, Morton 
4 16
Lipton, Mark 
4 17
Mack, Arien 
4 18
Schürmann, Reiner 
4 19
Sontag, Susan 
4 20
Ward, Champion F. 
4 21
Wolfe, Tom 
4 22
Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science commencement or convocation 
4 23
Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science event and meeting 

Includes photographs of Reiner Schürmann, Allen Austill and David Gordon.

4 24-25
Parsons School of Design students 

Label assigned based on content of photographs.

5 1
University in Exile 50th Anniversary portraits of Hans Speier and Jonathan Fanton 
5 2

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Series II. Non-New School circa 1960-1990 

The titles herein were supplied by the donor. It has not been established whether these categories were assigned by Adelman or by others involved in organizing the collection. A number of prints have labels to indicate that they belong to two of these categories, "NO" (New Orleans) and "NL" (Negro Life).

Binder
Moscow, circa 1990 

Comprised of 4 x 6 color prints, as well as a few larger-format black and white prints, primarily depicting Moscow street scenes, social gatherings, festivals, cafes and nightclubs at the end of the Soviet era. Most of the photographs are stamped and dated 1990, and many have descriptive titles inscribed on the back. While individuals photographed appear primarily to be local residents, there are also visitors, including opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti and the conductor Julius Rudel at a dinner.

1
6 6-7
Negro Life, probably 1960s 

Includes primarily 4 x 6 black and white prints bearing the initials "NL" inscribed on the back, sometimes also with descriptive titles. Also includes several larger-format matted prints. Nothing further has come to light about this categorization, which may span more than one project.

2
7 1
New Orleans, probably 1960s 

Primarily comprised of 4 x 6 black and white prints depicting the everyday life of New Orleans residents. It also includes two larger prints the origins of which are not clear, but which seem to belong to this project. Several of the small prints are inscribed on the back with the initials "NL" and "NO," indicating that these belong both to the Negro Life category, as well as to the category New Orleans.

2
5 6-7
7 2
New York City Housing Authority, probably late 1970s-early 1980s 

Includes photographs of Ed Koch, David Dinkins, possibly Jesse Jackson, and other community leaders.

5 8-16
7 3-7

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Collection Guide Last Updated: 07/02/2018

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