Featured Acquisition: Milton Rogovin
In 1999, the Library of Congress acquired
the complete archives of social documentary
photographer Milton Rogovin. Influenced
by the work of Lewis Hine and Paul Strand,
Rogovin’s photographic career spans
more than forty years.
Mr. Rogovin is a recipient of the prestigious
W. Eugene Smith Award for humanistic photography
and a New York State Governor’s
Arts Award. Mr. Rogovin's work has been
published in several monographs, including
The Forgotten Ones, Windows
That Open Inward: Images of Chile, with poems by
Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda; Portraits
in Steel, with interviews by Michael Frisch,
and Triptychs: Buffalo's Lower West
Side Revisited. In addition to the Library
of Congress, Rogovin’s work is in
the collections of more than 20 institutions,
including the Metropolitan Museum of Art,
the Museum of Modern Art, the International
Museum of Photography at the George Eastman
House and the J. Paul Getty Center.
First to be processed, and now available
to researchers working in the Prints and
Photographs Reading Room, are Milton Rogovin’s
photographs of Buffalo, New York’s
storefront churches, made between 1958
and 1963 (LOT 13523 -- see catalog
These photographs document over time the
life of independent African American churches.
Rogovin photographed congregations during
the religious services, capturing the
energy and emotions of the worshipers
singing, dancing, and playing musical
instruments. He photographed the buildings,
too, exterior and interior, emphasizing
the transitory nature of churches and
congregations. The series consists of
33-8 x 10" photographs printed by
the photographer and 75 contact sheets.
The Buffalo storefront series was Rogovin’s
first photographic project. William H.
Tallmadge, a professor of music at the
State University College in Buffalo, encouraged
him to photograph the Black churches while
Tallmadge recorded their music. Rogovin
developed his camera skills during the
project, especially the use of flash for
the church interiors. In 1962, the photography
journal Aperture published Rogovin’s
photographs of the storefront churches
along with text by W. E. B. DuBois.
In addition to the Buffalo storefront
church series, Rogovin traveled the world
making portraits of working-class men
and women on the job and in their homes.
His dignified portraits of workers speak
of the dreams and aspirations common to
humanity. These photographs will be processed
in the near future.