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Guide to the Carl Mydans photographs, 1935-1968

Abstract

Photojournalist (1907-2004) for the Farm Security Administration and Life magazine.

Collection includes (66) 8x10 and 11x14 photographs made for the Farm Security Administration and for Life magazine from 1935-1968.

Descriptive Summary

Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
Creator
Mydans, Carl.
Title
Carl Mydans photographs 1935-1968
Language of Material
English
Extent
2.0 Linear Feet, 66 Items
Location
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Collection Overview

Collection (2010-0023) consists of 66 black and white photographs spanning Carl Mydans' career. Images from his early work for the Farm Security Administration include photographs of cowboys and ranchers from Freer, Texas; migrant workers and rural life in Texas and Arkansas; a photograph of the Capitol building through a Washington, D.C. slum; and political banners from the 1936 presidential election.

The majority of the collection dates from his time working for Life magazine as a war photographer. Mydans' subjects include the Sino-Japanese war beginning in 1941, his time in the Philippines and the battle for Manila, his coverage of the Allies in France and Italy during the liberation of Europe, and his travels with General Douglas MacArthur during MacArthur's return to the Philippines and the subsequent surrender of the Japanese. Mydans' World War II images are fairly evenly split into equal parts combat and street scenes: there seem to be just as many photographs of tea rooms and markets in China as there are photographs of Japanese bombing raids in the Philippines. This portion of the collection also includes some of Mydans' most famous and memorable photographs, including a portrait of General MacArthur with his sunglasses and pipe, a photograph of MacArthur leading the army ashore in the Philippines, and an image of a "collaborater" being shaved following the liberation of France.

Another significant component of the collection is Mydans' post-World War II images, which include Japanese war crimes tribunals, Korean War coverage, portraits of coal miners and politicians in Europe, and photographs taken during the Fukui earthquake. Also included is a self-portrait of Mydans in Vietnam, the only photograph taken in color, from 1968.

Nearly all of the photographs have handwritten captions on the back, which have been transcribed in the Collection Description portion of the finding aid. Some of the handwritten captions have been supplemented by a caption list, available in hard copy in Box 3. [Brackets] indicate information added by processors. Some prints have also been signed by Mydans.

Administrative Information

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 48 business hours in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning Access Restrictions

Collection is open for educational, non-commercial use. Copyright is retained by the creator.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

warning Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Contents of the Collection

Texas fence rider, 1938
Box 1
County Store, Big Bend County, Texas, 1937
Box 1
Japanese bombing of Chung King, China, 1941
Box 1
Yellow River Fort roadway trench, Sian area, China, 1941
Box 1
Surrendering the sword to the U.S. Marines at the Kurihawa Naval Base, Japan, 1945
Box 1
Fight for Manila, 1945
Box 1
MacArthur portrait, 1945
Box 1
General Jiro Minami at War Crimes Tribunal, Tokyo, 1947
Box 1
Opium den, Singapore, 1941
Box 1
3 amazed men at Village Table, near Chungking, 1941
Box 1
Collaborist [getting her head shaved] during the Liberation of Southern France, Marseille, August 1944
Box 1
[Soldiers] Near Verdun after German breakthrough at Sedan, France, 1940
Box 1
French tank brigade near Verdun after the German breakthrough at Sedan, France, 1940
Box 1
Mutinous soldiers of the South Korean army taken prisoner after aborted uprising, 1948
Box 1
[People running during an] earthquake, Fukui, Japan, 1948
Box 1
Earthquake, Fukui, Japan, 1948
Box 1
Daily morning gathering at City Hall, Batesville, Arkansas, June 1936
Box 1
Daughter of migrant workers near Raymondsville, Texas, 1937
Box 1
Shelling of Walled City, Manila, Philippines, 1945
Box 1
American and Filipino guerillas join forces in attack on Japanese, Northern Luzon, Philippines, 1945
Box 1
Chinese nationalist troops at the front, Pengpu, China, 1945
Box 1
View of the nation's capitol through a nearby slum area, Washington, D.C., 1935
Box 1
Political banners for the 1936 election span a street in Hardwick, Vermont, 1936
Box 1
Tea room, Lung Chuan-I Village, China, 1941
Box 1
Surrendar on the Missouri, 1945
Box 2
One hundred year old man, Sian Area, China, 1941
Box 2
[Dead men], Korea, 1950
Box 2
[2 camels in the] Egypt desert, undated
Box 2
Sand hogs in a New York City tunnel, 1939
Box 2
Ezra Pound portrait, Milano, Italy, 1940
Box 2
De Valera portrait, Ireland, 1954
Box 2
Pavolini, Fascist official and propaganda minister, Rome, 1940
Box 2
Tojo, War Crimes trials in Tokyo, 1947
Box 2
Working in the 18 inch seam, British coal miners, 1952
Box 2
MacArthur in The Bataan during the Korean War, 1950
Box 2
MacArthur leading at Luzon, 1945
Box 2
War near Pengpu, China, 1949
Box 2
Chungking, 1941
Box 2
[Boats in] Shanghai, undated
Box 2
Migrant worker and children, Lower Rio Grande near Raymondsville, Texas, 1937
Box 2
Tea room scene, Chungking, China, 1941
Box 2
Fukui [earthquake], Japan, 1948
Box 2
Japan, undated
Box 2
Conscripts of the Chinese National Army walk through Chungking on a labor detail, China, 1941
Box 2
Battle for Manila, 1945
Box 2
Village main street, Lung Chuan-I, China, 1941
Box 2
Japan's first post-war vehicle, Hiroshima, 1947
Box 2
Village street with temple bell, Lung Chuan-I, China, 1941
Box 2
Vladamir Nabokov, novelist and lepidopterist, in Ithaca, NY, 1958
Box 3
Woman standing on a boat, Hong Kong, 1950
Box 3
Angkor Wat, Cambodia, 1950
Box 3
Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, Premier of Iran, at his trial in Tehran, Iran, 1953
Box 3
White-faced steer charging the camera, Texas, 1937
Box 3
Rector and church, Warleggan, England, 1953
Box 3
Roustabouts take time off from their jobs in Freer, Texas, oil boom town, 1937
Box 3
Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Biggleswade, England, 1955
Box 3
Loungers hang around the Duval Club lunchroom in Freer, Texas, 1937
Box 3
Police chief [cowboy boots], Freer, Texas, 1937
Box 3
Coal miners in British pub, 1952
Box 3
Corregidor just before the Japanese attack, Philippines, 1941
Box 3
Minister's meeting [parking lot] in Fascist Italy, Rome, 1940
Box 3
A mother carrying her baby and worldly goods flees the fighting around Seoul, Korea, 1951
Box 3
Bucket carrier on the road from Kamakura to Kugenuma, Sugamo Bay, Japan, 1949
Box 3
Self portrait of Mydans, Vietnam, 1968
Box 3
Hat seller, Lung Chuan-I, China, 1941
Box 3

Historical Note

Carl Mydans was an American photographer who spent most of his career with Life magazine. Some of his most memorable photographs were taken during World War II.

Born on May 20, 1907, Mydans studied journalism and photography in Boston in 1930 and spent some time as a writer in New York. He began working for the Farm Security Administration in 1935, where he documented rural and farm life, including migrant farm families, in the South and in New England. In 1936, he was hired as one of the first staff photographers for Life magazine. His early assignments included documenting cattle ranchers in Freer, Texas, and tunnel "sand hogs" in New York City. He married his wife, Shelley Smith, in 1938, and they became a writer-photographer team for Life. When World War II began, the Mydanses traveled throughout Europe and Asia. They were captured by the Japanese after the fall of the Philippines in 1941, and spent almost two years as prisoners-of-war in Manila and Shanghai. Following their release, Carl Mydans went back to the front in Europe and covered the liberation of Italy and France. His acquaintence with General Douglas MacArthur led to his covering MacArthur's return to the Philippines in 1944 and the eventual surrender of Japan in 1945.

In 1947, the Mydanses became Time-Life's bureau chiefs in Tokyo, and they remained in the Pacific area for the next several years. Carl Mydans was present during a 1948 earthquake in Fukui, Japan, and also covered the Korean War in 1950 and 1951. He traveled the world through the 1960s and 1970s, and worked for Life until it ceased weekly publication in 1972. He continued to work as a photographer for Time and other publications until his eighties. He died on August 16, 2004.

Subject Headings

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Carl Mydans photographs, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University

Provenance

The Carl Mydans photographs were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 2005.

Processing Information

Processed by Karen Glynn and Meghan Lyon, February 2010

Encoded by Meghan Lyon, February 2010

Accession(s) described in this collection: 2010-0023

Descriptive sources and standards used to create this inventory: DACS, EAD, NCEAD guidelines, and local Style Guide.

This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.