Arthur Rothstein (1915-1985)


Arthur Rothstein born July 17, 1915 in New York is recognized as one of America’s premier photojournalists. During a career that spanned five decades, he provoked, entertained and informed the American people. His photographs ranged from a hometown baseball game to the drama of war, from struggling rural farmers to US Presidents.

Arthur Rothstein was born in Manhattan and he grew up in the Bronx. He was a graduate of Columbia University, where he was a founder of the University Camera Club and photography editor of the Columbian. Following his graduation from Columbia during the Great Depression Arthur Rothstein was invited to Washington DC by one of his professors at Columbia Roy Stryker. Arthur Rothstein had been Stryker's student at Columbia University in the early 1930s. In 1934, as a college senior, he prepared a set of copy photographs for a picture source book on American agriculture that Stryker and another professor, Rexford Tugwell were assembling. The book was never published, but before the year was out, Tugwell was part of FDR's New Deal brain trust. He hired Stryker and Stryker hired Arthur Rothstein to set up the darkroom for Stryker's Photo Unit of the Historical Section of the Resettlement Administration (RA), which became the Farm Security Administration (FSA) in 1937. Later, when the country geared up for World War ll, the FSA became part of the Office of War Information (OWI).

The photographs made during Arthur Rothstein's five-year stint with the photographic section form a catalog of the agency's initiatives. His first assignment was to document the lives of some Virginia farmers who were being evicted to make way for the Shenandoah National Park and about to be relocated by the Resettlement Administration, and subsequent trips took him to the Dust Bowl and to cattle ranches in Montana.

In 1940, he became a staff photographer for Look magazine; he later became its director of photography, lasting until the magazine's demise in 1971. The following year he joined Parade magazine, serving in various capacities until his death. During that period he also taught photography and was a founding member of the American Society of Magazine Photographers, editing its in-house periodical for a year. Rothstein authored seven books about photojournalism that featured his images.

Loading husked corn. Washington County, Maryland | 1937 B&W photo |156.14.12
Roosevelt greeted on tour of drought area
Near Bismarck, ND | 1936 B&W photo | 154.14.12
President Roosevelt  - Speaking from rear of train
Near Bismarck, ND | 1936 B&W photo | 155.14.12
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