Bruce Davidson photograph collection
Language of Materials
The Bruce Davidson Photograph Collection consists of about 400 photographs taken by Bruce Davidson, an American photographer whose work is often focused on the relationship between people and place. The photographs were taken between 1957 and 2001.
Biographical / Historical
Bruce Davidson (1933-) is an American photographer known for his photo essays documenting people and places with sensitivity and sympathy. His photographs capture moments and details that reveal the complexity of his subjects.
Davidson studied photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the School of Design of Yale University. He has been a member of the Magnum Photos agency since 1958. His photographs, notably those taken in Harlem, New York City, have been widely exhibited and published.
Davidson's first published project was "East 100th Street" (1970), a book of 123 photographs of the inhabitants of a single block in East Harlem in New York City. Other books featuring his photographs include "Subsistence U.S.A." (1973), with text by Carol Hill, "Bruce Davidson Photographs" (1978), "Subway" (1986), "Central Park" (1995), and "In Color" (2014).
This collection is arranged into two series based on donor and date of acquisition. The first series consists of 14 images from Davidson's photo project "East 100th Street" donated by the artist in 2001.
The second series contains 394 images from over 20 of Davidson's photo projects. These photographs were donated by an anonymous donor in 2018.
Scope and Contents
The Bruce Davidson Photograph Collection consists of about 400 photographs taken by Bruce Davidson, an American photographer whose work is often focused on the relationship between people and place. The collection is arranged into two series.
Series I: East 100th Street consists of 14 images from Davidson's photo project of the same name. These photos were taken between 1966 and 1968 in the neighborhood of East Harlem in New York City.They document street activity, and particularly focus on children. The modern photographic prints are produced from the vintage negatives and signed on the verso by the photographer. These photographs were donated by the artist in 2001.
Series II: Photo Projects contains 394 images from over 20 of Davidson's photo projects undertaken between 1957 and 2001. These photographs were donated by an anonymous donor in 2018.
Photos in this series come from Davidson's projects documenting the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force; the Civil Rights movement in the U.S., including the 1965 Selma March; street life in Chicago in 1989; a circus; the streets and gardens of Paris; and English, Scottish and Welsh towns. In addition, there are portraits of Isaac Bashevis Singer, a Polish-American writer in Yiddish.
Also included are selections from Davidson's projects that focus on various aspects of life in New York City: a 1950s teenage gang from Brooklyn; children at the American Museum of Natural History in 1960; the subway in the 1980s; Central Park in the 1990s; the construction of the Verrazzano Bridge in 1963-1964; New York Harbor, including the South Street Seaport, the Statue of Liberty, the shoreline, boats, ships, dock workers and ship crew members; and the Lower East Side from the 1950s-1990s.
This series also includes photographs from the East 100th Street photo essay that comprises Series I, along with images from Davidson's 1998 project which revisits the same East Harlem neighborhood and explores the changes that occurred over intervening 30 years.
Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit www.nyhistory.org/library/visit.
Taking images of documents from the library collections for reference purposes by using hand-held cameras and in accordance with the library's photography guidelines is encouraged. As an alternative, patrons may request up to 20 images per day from staff.
Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to: Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282.
Copyrights and other proprietary rights may subsist in individuals and entities other than the New-York Historical Society, in which case the patron is responsible for securing permission from those parties. For fuller information about rights and reproductions from N-YHS visit: https://www.nyhistory.org/about/rights-reproductions
This collection should be cited as Bruce Davidson Photograph Collection, PR 89, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, New-York Historical Society.
Location of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Bruce Davidson, 2001. Gift of anonymous donor, 2018.