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New-York Historical Society logo

Guide to the Time Inc. Life Editorial Records
 MS 3009-RG 9

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

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Holly Deakyne, Samantha Brown, Melanie Rinehart

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on June 11, 2021
Description is in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Container List

Series VI. Photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt Files, 1946-1995. 7 Linear feet in 3 record cartons and 3 flat boxes

Biographical Note

Alfred Eisenstaedt was born in Dirschau, West Prussia (present day Tczew, Poland) in 1898 and became interested in photography in his early teens. His interest in photography was interrupted for a time when he was drafted into the German army as an artilleryman. He was injured during his service and sent home for rehabilitation.

After the war, Eisenstaedt moved to Berlin to work as a salesman and used his free time to study and experiment with photography. In 1927, his photograph of a girl playing tennis was bought by Der Welt Spiegel, an illustrated weekly, and published as a back-of-the-book feature.

Eisenstaedt kept photography became a full-time photographer in 1929. His first position was as a special photo reporter for Pacific and Atlantic Photos. In 1931, Pacific and Atlantic Photos was taken over by the Associated Press, and Eisenstaedt remained emploted with the Associated Press.

In 1935, Eisenstaedt moved to the United States and took a position with Life by 1936. Eisenstaedt was one of four photographers to work in the original photography department and was a staff photographer for publication of the first issue. After joining  Life, Eisenstaedt became known for his photographs of political leaders and movie stars. In addition to these subjects, Eisenstaedt also photographed America rebuilding after the depression, Japan during the war and post-war era, and the people and rulers of nations throughout the continent of Africa. His best known photograph may be of the Time Square kiss on V-Day. Eisenstaedt received  Life masthead photographer designation in 1972.

Along with having his photographs featured in Life, Eisenstaedt has also published a number of books including  Witness to Our Time,  The Eye of Eisenstaedt,  Martha's Vineyard,  Witness to Nature,  Wimbledon: A Celebration,  People,  Eisenstaedt's Guide to Photography,  Eisenstaedt's Album, and  Eisenstaedt: Germany.

Before his death in 1995, Eisenstaedt had completed twenty-five thousand assignments for Life and had received numerous awards for his work. Along with his awards, Eisenstaedt was voted as one of the world's greatest photographers in a 1968 poll conducted by Popular Photography and was presented with the #1,000,001 Leica Camera by E. Leitz Inc. in 1961.

Scope and Contents Note

Alfred Eisenstaedt's files cover the period of 1931 to 1995 and focus on his time as a photojournalist at Life. The files include general material that looks like it was cleared from his desk, honors received in the form of photography awards, honorary degrees, and proclamations of days named for him, and drafts for his book  Witness to Our Time.

Arrangement Note

Organized into three subseries:

Subseries VI.A: Desk Papers

Subseries VI.B: Honors Received

Subseries VI.C: Witness to Our Time

Subseries VI.A: Desk Papers, 1946-1995. 3 Linear feet in 4 record cartons and 1 flat box

Scope and Contents Note

The Desk Papers contain materials that look like they were collected from Alfred Eisenstaedt's desk at Life. Records include correspondence from fans and industry professionals; news clippings; drafts of press releases; copies of photographs; negatives; lists of photograph captions; price lists; transcripts of interviews; essays and profiles on Eisenstaedt; press kits; exhibition materials for exhibits including his work; event brochures; trip itineraries; assignment reports; handwritten notes; maps; and various awards.

Arrangement Note

Organized alphabetically.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Offsite-Box: 2216 Folder : 1 The Artist of Merit Josef Sudek Medal
Offsite-Box: 2216 Folder : 2 Awards and Tributes
Offsite-Box: 2216 Folder : 3 BBC Interview

Scope and Contents Note

Includes audiovisual material.

1 audiotape reel : 7 in., 1/4 in. tape. On label: "Title: Eisenstaedt. No.: SNAP Reel" 6-15-84".

Offsite-Box: 2216 Folder : 4-5 Biographical Details
Offsite-Box: 2216 Folder : 6 Book Draft
Offsite-Box: 2216 Folder : 7 Book Proposal
Offsite-Box: 2216 Folder : 8 Brazil with Alfred Eisenstaedt
Offsite-Box: 2216 Folder : 9 City of New York: Mayor's Award of Honor for Arts and Culture
Offsite-Box: 2216 Folder : 10 Correspondence: General
Offsite-Box: 2216 Folder : 11 Correspondence: Birthday and Holiday Cards
Offsite-Box: 2216 Folder : 12 Correspondence: Complaints about Sofia Loren Cover
Offsite-Box: 2216 Folder : 13 Correspondence: Fan Letters
Offsite-Box: 2216 Folder : 14-17 Correspondence: Photographic Copies
circa 1960-circa 1990
Offsite-Box: 2216 Folder : 18 Correspondence: Professional
Offsite-Box: 2216 Folder : 19 Endorsement? Clip

Scope and Contents Note

Includes audiovisual material.

1 film reel (30 sec.); 7.5 mm. On container: "6/29/79, Chiat/Day, Fotomat, QFBD 1043, -Eisenstaedt Rev.1-, Color, 3 sec."

Offsite-Box: 2216 Folder : 20-25 Events and Exhibits
Offsite-Box: R38 Events and Exhibits: Knoedler Gallery Agreement [RESTRICTED]
Offsite-Box: 2217 Folder : 1-5 Events and Exhibits
Offsite-Box: 2217 Folder : 6 Famous Artists School
Offsite-Box: 2217 Folder : 7 FYI Memorial Issue on Henry Luce
Offsite-Box: 2217 Folder : 8 International Center of Photography: Twelfth Year Report
Offsite-Box: 2217 Folder : 9 The International Who's Who: 1991-92
Offsite-Box: 2217 Folder : 10 Interviews
Offsite-Box: 2217 Folder : 11 Life: Gift Subscription (  Nuit de Noel)
Offsite-Box: 2217 Folder : 12 London Dispatches
Offsite-Box: 2217 Folder : 13-14 Magazine Articles About and Mentions
Offsite-Box: 2217 Folder : 15 Maps
Offsite-Box: 2217 Folder : 16-20 News Clippings and Releases
Offsite-Box: 2218 Folder : 1 News Clippings and Releases
Offsite-Box: 2218 Folder : 2-4 Photo Essay Assignments: Captions and Reports
Offsite-Box: 2218 Folder : 5 Photo Essay: Draft
Offsite-Box: 2218 Folder : 6 Photo Essay Assignments: Shooting Plans and Schedules: Papers
1958, undated
Offsite-Box: 2219 Item : 1-3 Photo Essay Assignments: Shooting Plans and Schedules: Film

Scope and Contents

Includes three cannisters of negatives associated with the Great Lakes photo shoot.

The cannisters are respectively labeled: "Life: Pollution: Part I: The Great Lakes: History and Ecology," "Life: Pollution: Part II: The Great Lakes: Causes of Pollution," and "Life: Pollution" Part III: the Great Lakes: Results of Pollution."

Offsite-Box: 2218 Folder : 7 Photograph Print Orders
Offsite-Box: 2218 Folder : 8-9 Photographs and Captions
1993, undated
Offsite-Box: 2218 Folder : 10 Press Releases
Offsite-Box: 2220 Folder : 5 Southwest Craft Center Chapel Lecture Poster
Offsite-Box: 2218 Folder : 11 Time-Life International: Special Project: World War II
Offsite-Box: 2218 Folder : 12-13 General
1966, undated

Subseries VI.B: Honors Received, 1951-1994. 5.17 Linear feet in 3 flat boxes

Scope and Contents Note

Honors Received document awards and other honors bestowed upon Eisenstaedt. Awards include Photographer of the Year from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and The Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Kulturpreis [Culture Award] from the Deutschen Gesellschaft für Photographie [German Society for Photography], the Joseph A. Sprague Award from the National Press Photographers Association, a Life Achievement in Photography Award from The American Society of Magazine Photographers, The Photographic Administrators Award for Creative Achievement from the Photographic Administrators Inc., The Progress Medal from The Photographic Society of America, the Mayor's Award of Honor for Arts and Culture from New York City, and the Human Relations Award: Photographic/Video Division from The American Jewish Committee. He was also awarded membership in The Clipper Club of Pan American. Several cities proclaimed Alfred Eisenstaedt Day in the early 1990s including Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City.


Organized alphabetically by topic with order imposed. The material in this series was were originally in a loose pile.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Offsite-Box: 2278 Folder : 1 Alfred Eisenstaedt: 25 Years of Photography

Scope and Contents

Contains a bound book of photographs of the exhibit.

Offsite-Box: 2220 Folder : 6 Awards
Offsite-Box: 4186 Folder : 4 Awards
Offsite-Box: 4186 Folder : 5 Honorary Degrees
1983, 1993
Offsite-Box: 2278 Folder : 3 Honorary Degrees: Miami University Scrapbook
Offsite-Box: 2220 Folder : 7 Life Masthead Photographer Designation
Offsite-Box: 4186 Folder : 6 Memberships
Offsite-Box: 2220 Folder : 8 People Cover Sticker
Offsite-Box: 2220 Folder : 9 Proclamations: Alfred Eisenstaedt Day or Week
Offsite-Box: 2278 Folder : 2 Proclamations: Alfred Eisenstaedt Day or Week
Offsite-Box: 4186 Folder : 7 Proclamations: Alfred Eisenstaedt Day or Week
Offsite-Box: 2220 Folder : 10 Recognitions
1982, 1993

Subseries VI.C: Witness to Our Time, 1947-1966. 1 Linear feet in 1 record carton and 1 oversize folder

Scope and Contents Note

The majority of materials in this series are drafts of chapters written for the book and lists of captions for the photographs in the book. Also included are handwritten notes, news clippings, and a limited amount of correspondence.

Arrangement Note

Organized by book chapter with full drafts at the end.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Offsite-Box: 2218 Folder : 14-35 Papers
Offsite-Box: 2219 Folder : 1-8 Papers
Offsite-Box: 2220 Folder : 11 Papers

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