Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945 Search this
1 Sound disc (33 1/3 RPM)
1 Cubic foot (4 boxes)
Papers document Katherine Joseph's career as staff photographer for the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. The papers contain negatives and prints taken in Mexico, and some photographs of a White House event in 1938, featuring Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt; and images of American workers on the home front during World War II.
Scope and Contents:
The collection consists of negatives and photographs from Ms. Joseph's career as staff photographer for the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. There are also images taken in Mexico, and some photographs of a White House event in 1938, featuring Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt; images of American workers on the home front during World War II; correspondence and travel notes.
Series 1, Historical Background, 1941, undated, consists of correspondence and travel notes from a photojournalistic trip to Mexico in 1941.
The correspondence is organized into three sections, Tayoltita in Northwest Mexico, the 1941 Colima, Mexico earthquake, and Thelma Goldman. In addition to the correspondence there are typescript captions for some of the photographs and annotated drafts of travel notes detailing the Mexico trip.
Series 2, Photographic Negatives and Prints, [1941?] and undated, consists of negatives and prints for garment workers and the photojournalistic trip to Mexico. The negatives and prints are housed together in 4" x 5" envelope enclosures. Captions and other information about the negative/print is provided on the envelope. The majority of negatives and prints are undated, and there is no arrangement.
Series 3, Photographic Prints, 1938, 1941 and undated, is further divided into four subseries topically: Subseries 1, International Ladies Garment Workers Union; Subseries 2, Labor; Subseries 3, Mexico and Subseries 4, Subjects. The photographs are 8" x 10" black-and-whites taken by Katherine Joseph and some by Harry Rubenstein, another journalist. The photographs are arranged topically. Some of the photographs have captions and/or annotations, and almost all bear a stamp "photo by Katherine Joseph."
Series 4, "Pins and Needles" (audio disc), 1962, consists of one (1) 33 1/3 RPM audio disc from the Pins and Needles twenty-fifth anniversary. Pins and Needles was originally produced by the Cultural Division of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union under the leadership of Louis Schaffer. The music and lyrics for Pins and Needles was composed by Harold Rome in 1936–1937. The revue had its public debut on November 27, 1937 at the New York Labor Stage, which had been created when the ILGWU leased the Princess Theater and renovated the space for union cultural performances. Because of their factory jobs, cast and crew could rehearse only at night and on weekends, and initial performances were presented only on Friday and Saturday nights. The original cast was made up of cutters, basters, and sewing machine operators. Pins and Needles satirized current events and cultural trends from a pro-union standpoint. Pins and Needles went on to become the longest-running musical of the 1930s, with 1108 New York performances and multiple national tours.
The collection is divided into five series.
Series 1: Historical Background, 1941, undated
Series 2: Photographic Negatives and Prints, 1941 and undated
Series 3: Photographic Prints, 1938, 1941 and undated
Subseries 3.1: International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU), undated
Subseries 3.2: Labor, undated
Subseries 3.3: Mexico, undated
Subseries 3.4: Subjects, 1938, 1941, 1944 and undated
Series 4: Photographic Prints and Negatives, 1938-1944
Series 5: Sound Recording, 1962
Biographical / Historical:
Katherine Joseph (1909-1990) was active as a professional photographer from approximately 1937 to 1944. Much of her time was spent as a staff photographer for the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU) in New York City. Her photographs documented workers on the shop floors and union, community, political, and cultural activities. One of Joseph's most notable assignments was a 1938 visit to the White House where she photographed the cast of ILGWU's Broadway revue, "Pins and Needles," performed for President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the invitation of Eleanor Roosevelt. After the Second World War, Joseph left her photographic career to look after her family. In 1941, Joseph undertook a photojournalistic tour of Mexico with two friends, Thelma Goldman, and Andrée Vilas Graham, made possible by the gift of a Willys-Overland Americar to Joseph and her two friends as part of of publicity campaign for the Americar.
Willys-Overland Motors, was an American automobile company founded by John North Willys in 1908 and best known for its design and production of military Jeeps during World War II.
The Americar that Joseph and her friends drove to Mexico was a powder blue Model 441 which they nicknamed "Willy.". Their south-of-the-border road trip held only one obligation, to send back to the United States photographs featuring themselves and "Willy" against the Mexico landscape. Katherine Joseph took photographs and Thelma Goldman and Andrée Vilas-Graham wrote about their travels using a portable typewriter. When the women arrived in Mexico City they secured press passes from the Minister of Information.
Joseph returned to New York as America was gearing up to enter the war and resumed working for the ILGWU in 1942. Her New York images from this period chronicle the Home Front contributions of the garment industry to the war effort. In July 1944 Joseph covered the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, where Franklin D. Roosevelt won an unprecedented fourth-term nomination and Harry S. Truman was chosen as his running mate over the incumbent vice-president, Henry Wallace. This was to be Joseph's last professional assignment before, like millions of American women, she gave up her career to devote herself to family life.
Materials at Other Organizations
A master's thesis written by Suzanne Herzberg is available through the University of Southern California's Digital Library. The thesis does not form part of the Katherine Joseph Papers held by the Archives Center, National Museum of American History. Author retains sole copyright; use of copyrighted material requires author's permission.
Herzberg, Suzanne. "Photo by Katherine Joseph." (master's thesis, University of Southern California, 2002), 217 pages.
Hertzberg, Suzanne. Katherine Joseph Photographing an Era of Social Significance. Bergamot Books, 2016.
When Katherine Joseph died in 1990, her daughter discovered a trove of memorabilia from her mother's life as a Roosevelt-era photographer for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU). Ms. Joseph's photographs celebrate the golden age of organized labor, from her iconic image of the ILGWU's Pins and Needles White House performance to her sensitive portraits of men and women at work. Her images from a 1941 journey to Mexico reveal a nation caught in the high-stakes political crossfire between the superpowers of the day. She photographed marketplaces, artists' colonies, and Acapulco's posh set as well as a secret gold mine, a historic labor convention, American movie stars on a "Goodwill Fiesta" tour, and a devastating earthquake. Returning to New York, Ms. Joseph documented labor's home front efforts and the historic 1944 Democratic Convention that put Harry Truman on the ballot. Hertzberg's book tells a remarkable story that preserves a legacy of historical, artistic, and feminist significance.
Materials in National Museum of American History, Division of Political History (now Division of Political and Military History
Division holds some materials related to the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union
Donated by Suzanne Hertzberg and Richard Hertzberg, daughter and son of Katherine Joseph, February 20, 2007.
The collection is open for research.
Copyright held by donor. Written permission required prior to obtaining reproductions. Consult with Archives Center staff for contact information. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
National Museum of American History (U.S.). Division of Computers, Information and Society Search this
Box 13 (Series 13), Folder 12
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