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Grant number like: RZ-20039-97

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Bonnie E. Yochelson
Unaffiliated Independent Scholar (New York, NY 10013-0000)

Collaborative Research
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$90,000 (approved)
$90,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/1997 – 2/28/2000

Jacob A. Riis Rediscovered: An Interdisciplinary Study of His Photographs and Writings

To support an interdisciplinary reassessment of the place of Jacob Riis (1849-1914), a social reformer whose photographs of conditions in New York Cityslums form a unique record of turn-of-the-century poverty.

Jacob A. Riis (1849-1914) was a leading social reformer whose publications and lectures on the urban poor helped lay the foundation for the American Progressive movement. His revolutionary photographs of the squalid conditions of New York's Lower East Side slums form a unique record of turn-of-the-century poverty. Riis has been variously lauded and condemned as a proto-New Dealer and proto-modern photographer. Despite heated debate on their significance, Riis's photographs have never been thoroughly studied. Based on the first careful analysis of the photographs (in the collection of the Museum of the City of New York), this study brings together a photographic and social historian to reevaluate Riis's work in its turn-of-the-century New York context.