“Beauty Contestant Collapses”, photo by Perry Griffith, July 17, 1954. © The Ransom Center.

The New York Journal-American photographic morgue: “Beauty Contestant Collapses”, photo by Perry Griffith, July 17, 1954. Rec. no. NYJA000471. © The Ransom Center.

Official description:

Entrants for the Miss Universe Beauty Pageant pose for the press while one of their number, Miss New Zealand, faints under the hot sun of Long Beach, California.

This is the second “photographic morgue” I learn about, the first being The Lively Morgue run by The New York Times (see previously: “From The Lively Morgue: The Winged Victory of Samothrace”. Here’s the story of The New York Journal-American photographic morgue:

The photographic morgue consists of approximately two million prints and one million negatives created for publication in the New York Journal-American newspaper. The bulk of the material covers the years from 1937 to the paper’s demise in 1966. Earlier decades are represented in the collection, but with decreasing frequency toward the beginning of the twentieth century. Roughly half of the prints are images taken by Journal-American staff. The backs of these prints usually bear the stamped date of publication and a pasted-down clipping from the newspaper. The majority of the other prints come from wire services such as the Associated Press, United Press International, and other syndication entities, while a small portion of the prints are publicity photos from sources such as airlines, public relations firms, movie studios, etc. Many of the prints in the morgue show crop marks and/or heavy retouching with pencil, ink, dyes, or airbrush paints as evidence of their use in publication.

Until now, access to the photo morgue collection has been limited, resulting from its uncataloged status. In keeping with the Ransom Center’s mission to advance the study of the arts and humanities by preserving and making accessible creations of our cultural heritage through the highest standards of cataloging, conservation, and collection management, the Center has now constructed this website as a portal to the prints in the New York Journal-American photo morgue. It is intended to serve as an introduction to the collection and its imagery and to provide a searchable database of more than 64,000 folder titles by which the prints were organized by the newspaper staff.

At the time of writing there are 864 photos available online. They are all available in thumbnail format on a single page. One can also search this archive by keywords and categories.


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