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Guide to the "William Meyers: Civics" Exhibition Photographs
 PR 394

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Joseph Ditta

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 31, 2019
English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Meyers, William, 1938-
Title: "William Meyers: Civics" exhibition photographs
Dates [inclusive]: 2002-2016
Abstract: Photographs exhibited in October 2016 as "William Meyers: Civics" at Nailya Alexander Gallery, New York. Through sections labeled "Politics," "Demonstrations," "Press," and "Powwows," Meyers' images explore the ways in which individual citizens involve themselves in the procedures, rituals, symbols, and rhetoric of American democracy.
Quantity: 37 Photographic Prints in 5 flat boxes.
Call Phrase: PR 394

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Biographical note

William Meyers was born in 1938 in Providence, Rhode Island. He received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania. From 1962 to 1965, during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, he served as an Air Intelligence Officer in the United States Navy Reserve, and later joined the staff of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Employment, Manpower and Poverty. In the 1990s, after a successful career as a businessman and investor, he turned his attention to photography and pursued his studies at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York. From 2002 to 2008, he regularly wrote photography reviews for The New York Sun, and in 2008 he began writing a regular column as well as feature articles on photography for  The Wall Street Journal.

Meyers' focus is New York City, particularly as a lived city of neighborhoods and working people. In 2008, the New York Public Library acquired a portfolio of prints from "Outer Boroughs: New York Beyond Manhattan," and exhibited the prints at the library in 2015. That same year, Outer Boroughs was published as a book by Damiani. Richard Rivera wrote in the  New York Journal of Books, "Meyers' vision of the city's open spaces is gritty, detailed, and often stark rather than romanticized . . . His portrayal of the people of New York is full of character, attitude, and generosity of spirit."

Meyers' work has been featured in the New York Times,  The New York Sun, the  Observer, and  The Guardian, among other publications. He has lectured on photography and served on panels at ICP; the City University of New York; the State University of New York; Long Island University; and the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. His photographs can be found in the collections of the New York Public Library, the New-York Historical Society, the Museum of the City of New York, and the Department of Classics, Harvard University, among other institutions.

William Meyers lives and works in New York.

[This information was supplied by Nailya Alexander Gallery, New York.]

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Scope and Contents

"William Meyers: Civics," an exhibition originally shown at Nailya Alexander Gallery, October 5–29, 2016, explores the ways in which individual citizens involve themselves in the procedures, rituals, symbols, and rhetoric of American democracy. Taking as its epigraph a quote from an essay by David and Nathan Tucker—"Civic life is the life we live in dealing with problems of common concern" (Music and Civic Life in America, 2013)—the four-part exhibition includes images of the formal political process, from volunteers and voters to the politicians themselves, and also covers lectures, conferences, protests, demonstrations, charitable activities, and symbolic expressions of civic engagement. Part I, "Politics," addresses the formal processes for dealing with the issues of civic life. Part II, "Demonstrations," probes the manner in which groups make known their particular concerns. Part III, "Press," addresses how these concerns are reported to the public, and Part IV, "Powwows," is a study of the lectures, conferences, meetings, and social gatherings where problems and plans are discussed. Meyers' photographs track more than a decade of New York City's civic life, from the cramped newsroom of a neighborhood newspaper in Queens in 2002 to the events surrounding the proposed mosque near Ground Zero in 2010, and from the Occupy Wall Street demonstration in 2011 to a rally against the Iran nuclear deal in 2015. The project, Meyers writes, "is not so much about politicians or ideology as it is about the way individual citizens involve themselves in civic processes . . . Civics is about the organs of government, but also what people take upon themselves to do for the communities in which they live."

[This note is drawn from a press release issued by Nailya Alexander Gallery, New York.]


The photographs in "William Meyers: Civics" are sorted in the four sections in which they were exhibited at Nailya Alexander Gallery in October 2016:

I. Politics

II. Demonstrations

III. Press

IV. Powwows

The prints were numbered consecutively, from 1 to 37, in the exhibit's object list; the archivist has copied these numbers (in pencil) on the back of each mat, and included them in the container list, below. All prints measure 11 x 14 inches, with the exception of numbers 10, 20, 23, and 28, each of which measures 16 x 20 inches.

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Access Points

Document Type

  • Gelatin silver prints.
  • Photographs.

Subject Topics

  • Demonstrations -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Local elections -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Occupy movement -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Press -- New York (State) -- New York.

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers by appointment only.

Use Restrictions

Permission to reproduce any Department of Prints, Photographs and Architectural Collections holdings through publication must be obtained from: Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024. Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 270. Fax: (212) 579-8794.

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as: "William Meyers: Civics" exhibition photographs, PR 394, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society.

Related Material at the New-York Historical Society

Along with one black-and-white, gelatin silver print by William Meyers of the Hunts Point Market, Bronx, taken on November 17, 1999 (Photographer File, PR-50, box 2), the New-York Historical Society holds a copy of his book,  Outer Boroughs: New York Beyond Manhattan (call no. TR659.8 .M495 2014).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Richard S. Frary, 2016 (accession no. PPAC-2016-050).

Processing Information

Archivist Joseph Ditta arranged and described this collection in May 2019.

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Container List

I. Politics

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Item : 01 Listening to the candidate, Rego Park, Queens
2011 August 25
Box: 1 Item : 02 Meeting the candidate, Harlem
2010 October 19
Box: 1 Item : 03 Candidate working the phone, Midtown
2010 September 28
Box: 1 Item : 04 Campaign strategist, Midtown
2010 September 28
Box: 1 Item : 05 Leafleting, Upper East Side
2010 October 19
Box: 1 Item : 06 Watching primary campaign debate, Manhattan Republican Club, Upper East Side
2015 December 15
Box: 1 Item : 07 Entering polling place, Upper West Side
2010 November 2
Box: 1 Item : 08 Election night, Republican Headquarters, Hilton Hotel
2011 November 2
Box: 1 Item : 09 Election night, losing candidate's headquarters, Harlem
2010 November 2
Box: 5 (16 x 20) Item : 10 City Hall and Municipal Building, Civic Center
2011 January 4

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II. Demonstrations

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Item : 11 Pro-Israel rally defending the Gaza flotilla raid, Times Square
2010 June 3
Box: 2 Item : 12 Westboro Baptist Church rally, Second Avenue at East 42nd Street
2009 September 24
Box: 2 Item : 13 People's Climate March, Central Park
2014 September 21
Box: 2 Item : 14 AIDS Walk, Riverside Drive
2011 May 15
Box: 2 Item : 15 Rally for Ground Zero Mosque, St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church
2010 September 12
Box: 2 Item : 16 Union rat, Madison Avenue, Midtown
2011 January 26
Box: 2 Item : 17 Anti-Iran nuclear deal rally, Second Avenue at 48th Street
2015 September 1
Box: 2 Item : 18 Fight for $15 / National Day of Action, Cadman Plaza, Brooklyn
2015 November 10
Box: 3 Item : 19 Falun Gong demonstration, Dag Hammarskjold Plaza
2009 September 24
Box: 5 (16 x 20) Item : 20 Occupy Wall Street, Zuccotti Park, Financial District
2011 October 6

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III. Press

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Item : 21 Neighborhood paper, Bayside, Queens
2002 January 22
Box: 3 Item : 22 Editor & publisher, Kings County Politics, Kensington, Brooklyn
2015 October 8
Box: 5 (16 x 20) Item : 23 Newsroom, New York Daily News, Wall Street area
2015 March 19
Box: 3 Item : 24 Reporter questioning Congressional Representative, Sutton Place
2010 October 26
Box: 3 Item : 25 Interviewing the candidate, Tribeca
2010 August 22
Box: 3 Item : 26 Dedication of David H. Koch Plaza, Metropolitan Museum of Art
2014 September 9
Box: 3 Item : 27 Media protest, Midtown
2010 October 17

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IV. Powwows

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 5 (16 x 20) Item : 28 Second annual town hall meeting, West 83rd Street Church of the Redeemer
2015 April 27
Box: 3 Item : 29 Charter school principal addressing parents of prospective students, Upper West Side
2010 December 1
Box: 4 Item : 30 Conversation on Civil Society, Institute for American Values, Columbus Circle
2011 September 22
Box: 4 Item : 31 West Side Republican Club, 63rd Street YMCA
2014 June 6
Box: 4 Item : 32 Staff meeting, non-profit legal services provider for indigent women, Wall Street area
2013 September 11
Box: 4 Item : 33 Thirtieth Annual Spring Fair, Hippo Playground, Riverside Park
2013 May 5
Box: 4 Item : 34 Town hall meeting about Museum of Natural History construction in Theodore Roosevelt Park, Fourth Universalist Society
2015 October 6
Box: 4 Item : 35 Question from the floor, lecture, St. Francis College, Brooklyn Heights
2014 March 25
Box: 4 Item : 36 Riverside Park Conservancy Spring Gala, General Grant National Memorial
2016 June 6
Box: 4 Item : 37 Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meeting, Upper West Side
2013 April 10

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