Thérèse Bonney: Art Collector, Photojournalist, Francophile, Cheese Lover

Thérèse Bonney aboard the S.S. Siboney, en route to Portugal, 1941.

Thérèse Bonney aboard the S.S. Siboney, en route to Portugal, 1941. BANC PIC 1982.111 series 3, NNEG box 49, item 19

Pioneering war correspondent and Cal grad Mabel Thérèse Bonney (1894-1978) was decorated with the Croix de Guerre and the Legion d’Honneur by the French government, and the Order of the White Rose of Finland for her work during World War II. Her photographs were exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Library of Congress, and Carnegie Hall during her lifetime. Her work on children displaced by war spurred the United Nations to create their international children’s emergency fund, UNICEF, in 1946, and inspired the Academy Award-winning film The Search in 1948. Yet in the canon of female war photographers that includes contemporaries such as Lee Miller, Margaret Bourke-White, and Toni Frissell, Bonney rarely receives mention. Bonney was a renaissance woman whose life deserves further study, and her collections at the Bancroft Library are ripe for discovery. Manuscript Archivist Marjorie Bryer has processed The Thérèse Bonney papers, and Pictorial Archivist Sara Ferguson has digitized over 2,500 previously inaccessible nitrate negatives from the Thérèse Bonney Photograph Collection.

ART CONNOISSEUR

While living in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s, Bonney modeled for fashion designers like Sonia Delaunay and Madeleine Vionnet, and became friends with many of the most famous artists and writers of her day, including Raoul Dufy, Gertrude Stein, and George Bernard Shaw. In 1924 Bonney founded an international photo service that licensed images acquired in France for publication in the U.S. She was often dissatisfied with the images she distributed, and this inspired her to take up photography herself. Bonney wrote about, and took photographs of, many of the artists and writers in her life throughout the twenties, thirties, and forties.

PHOTOJOURNALISM AND WAR RELIEF EFFORTS

Bonney photographed throughout Europe during World War II, focusing on the effects of war on the civilian population. Her photographs of children were particularly moving and resulted in her most famous work, the exhibit and book, Europe’s ChildrenBonney was actively involved with relief efforts after the war, particularly in the Alsace region of France. She also founded a number of organizations dedicated to promoting friendship between citizens of France and the United States, and improving Franco-American political relations. One effort, the Chain d’Amite, encouraged French families to open their homes to American G.I.s; another, Project Patriotism, inspired airmen who were shot down in France to help the families that had rescued them. Project Patriotism eventually spread to other European countries, including the Netherlands. Marjorie’s father-in-law, Peter, was a teenager when Germany invaded the Netherlands during the war. He was sent to live with relatives in the Dutch countryside so he wouldn’t be conscripted. One of Peter’s most moving stories was about the American pilot his family hid when his plane crashed on the family farm. Bonney’s papers include many poignant letters from U.S. soldiers and, while processing the collection, Marjorie wondered what this airman from Brooklyn might have written about his experiences with his Dutch “family.”

LOVER OF CHEESE

Bonney’s many interests included food and cooking. She and her sister, Louise, wrote a guide to Paris restaurants and a cookbook, French cooking for American kitchens. Her papers include her research on cheese, which she referred to as “Project Fromage.” Series 7 of Bonney’s papers include meticulous notes on various cheeses from France and the Netherlands, “technical” correspondence about cheese, and materials related to tyrosemiophilia — the hobby of collecting cheese labels.

EVERYDAY PEOPLE AND LIFE DURING WARTIME 

Bonney documented daily life during wartime across Europe. She recorded entire communities — their families, customs, and industries, their artists and politicians, their schools, and their churches. Her papers and photographs show not only the horrors of war but the hope and perseverance of those who lived through it.

NOW AVAILABLE AT THE BANCROFT LIBRARY! 

Newly digitized portions of the pictorial collection include Series 6: France, Germany 1944-1946. This series includes photographs of concentration camps Vaihingen, Buchenwald, and Dachau; Displaced Person camps; Neuschwanstein Castle; and Hermann Göring’s Collection of art looted by the Nazi’s. It also includes many images of the heavily bombarded town of Ammerschwihr in Alsace, France and war relief efforts there. Future digitization efforts will focus on Series 3, Carnegie Corporation Trip: Portugal, Spain, France 1941-1942.  This series consists of images taken while on a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to document the effects of war on civilian populations. It includes images of military personnel, civilian industries, and Red Cross operations. Famous personalities pictured in this series include Pierre Bonnard, Henri Matisse, Georges Roualt, Gertrude Stein, Philippe Petain, Raoul Dufy, and Aristide Maillol.

Bonney’s papers help contextualize her photographs. They include correspondence; personal materials; her writings (autobiographical and articles about others); and her files on World War II, Franco-American relations, art, fashion, photography, and cheese.

Both collections are open for research:

Finding Aid to the Thérèse Bonney Photograph Collection, circa 1850-circa 1955 (bulk 1930-1945)

Finding Aid to the Thérèse Bonney Papers 

— Marjorie Bryer and Sara Ferguson


Revista Matador

Revista Matador

Through La Fábrica—the Madrid-based publishing house he also directs, journalist Alberto Arnaut aims to incite a cultural debate in Matador, or in his own words a “campo de batalla” (battlefield) for ideas in all genres. The work of painters, sculptors, photographers, novelists, poets, playwrights, essayists, philosophers, architects, filmmakers, actors, chefs, musicians, fashion designers, and more adorn the pages of the lavish folio-size issues. Published annually since 1995 beginning with the letter A, the publishers are committed to completing 28 issues in 2022 when they reach the letter Z.

It is difficult to describe what takes place in Matador until you put your hands on an issue. Other than the dimensions, no issue is alike and each takes on a distinct theme. The magazine is predominantly visual with an emphasis on creators from the Iberoamerican world such as artists Miguel Barceló, Luis Gordillo and Eduardo Chillida; photographers Francesc Català-Roca, Xavier Miserachs, Ramón Masats; and filmmakers Bigas Luna and Gonzalo Suárez. However, contributions from all the continents establish an international dialogue. The words of contemporary fiction writers such as Javier Marías, Juan Goytisolo, Elena Poniatowska, and Juan Villoro engage with the deceased such as Rafael Alberti, Clarice Lispector, José Saramago and others. The texts of French theoreticians Hélène Cixous and Paul Virilio and the Department of Spanish Portuguese’s own Alex-Saum Pascual can also be encountered in Matador.

This year, the Art History/Classic Library was able to acquire all issues to date (A-T) as a joint purchase with the Romance Languages Librarian and is now one of only three libraries in California with a full-run and subscription.

Revista MatadorMatador. Madrid: La Fábrica, 1995-
Art History/Classics f NX456 .M368

 


1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition: Stories through Photographs

A guest posting by Seamus Howard, Student Archival Processing Assistant in the Pictorial Unit, Bancroft Library

What makes a photograph good?

As a student working in the Bancroft Pictorial Unit, I’ve been going through hundreds and hundreds of photographs daily. I’ve seen my share of good and bad photos.

One might stand out as “good” due to the lighting, crisp focus, correct staging, and exposure — good cropping perhaps, or just clarity of subject. Ultimately, the answer is a combination of factors, and can be completely subjective.

For me, the most important factor is moment.

The 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition was full of special moments captured in photographs which continue to shed light on the character and tone of the United States during the early 20th century.

One special moment was former President William Howard Taft visiting the P.P.I.E.

Working to re-house and inventory about 6,700 photographic prints in large, brittle ledger books, I’ve encountered numerous shots of this visit, thoroughly recorded by the Cardinell-Vincent Company, the exposition’s official photographers.

President Taft was an early supporter of the exposition, declaring in early 1911 that San Francisco would be the official home of the fair. He attended the groundbreaking eight months later and returned to San Francisco in 1915 to see the fair in all its glory.

 

Ex-President Taft and other men on the speakers' platform, PPIE
Figure 1: President Taft addressing a crowd on “Taft Day”, September 2, 1915. Photograph, approximately 4.75 inches x 6.75 inches. (Reference snapshot from the Edward A. Rogers Panama Pacific International Exposition photograph collection, BANC PIC 2015.013: v.4, pt.2, The Bancroft Library, U.C. Berkeley.)

 

Taft’s visit to the fair was seemingly a large event. He was accompanied wherever he went, soldiers or guards escorting him from building to building. Taft continued to be a very important person at this time. He had lost his reelection to Wilson in 1912, and returned to Yale as a professor of law and government.

 

Ex-President Taft giving speech at P.P.I.E.
Figure 2: President Taft giving speech at P.P.I.E. on “Taft Day”, September 2, 1915. Photograph, approximately 4.75 inches x 6.75 inches. (Reference snapshot from the Edward A. Rogers Panama Pacific International Exposition photograph collection, BANC PIC 2015.013: v.4, pt.2, The Bancroft Library, U.C. Berkeley.)

 

Taft visited many of the fair’s popular buildings and exhibits, including the Japanese Pavilion, Swedish Building, Norway Building, and the art gallery and courtyard of the French Pavilion. He met foreign representatives, fair officials, and experienced much of what the fair had to offer.

 

President Taft and entourage leaving a building at the PPIE
Figure 3: President Taft leaving building, September 2 or 3?, 1915. Photograph, approximately 4.75 inches x 6.75 inches. (Reference snapshot from the Edward A. Rogers Panama Pacific International Exposition photograph collection, BANC PIC 2015.013: v.4, pt.2, The Bancroft Library, U.C. Berkeley.)
President Taft viewing busts in Swedish Building of the Panama Pacific International Exposition
Figure 4: President Taft viewing busts in Swedish Building, September 3?, 1915. Photograph, approximately 4.75 inches x 6.75 inches. (Reference snapshot from the Edward A. Rogers Panama Pacific International Exposition photograph collection, BANC PIC 2015.013: v.4, pt.2, The Bancroft Library, U.C. Berkeley.)

 

And President Taft experienced the unique blend of cultures and stories the fair provided. Here, in my favorite photograph of Taft’s time at the fair, he walks through a hall lined with busts in the Swedish building, flanked by guards. Taft seems enveloped by the art and is perfectly framed between his escorts and the lines of busts, drawing your eye towards Taft at the center. This moment makes a great photograph.

The Bancroft Pictorial team continues to house and describe the collection, and will update this blog with more photographs and details as we progress. Stay tuned!

 


Event: Bancroft Round Table, Thursday 2/16

Bancroft Library’s first Round Table of the semester will take place in the Lewis-Latimer Room of The Faculty Club at noon on Thursday, February 16. Cathy Cade, documentary photographer, will present “Views of the Women’s Liberation and Feminist Movements of the 1970s and 1980s: Selections from the Cathy Cade Photograph Archive.”

__________________________________________________________

Cathy Cade was introduced to the power of documentary photography as she participated in the Southern Freedom Movement of the 1960s. In the years that followed, she took an array of images that depict the women’s liberation movement, union women, trades women, lesbian feminism, lesbian mothering, lesbians of color, LGBT freedom days, fat activism, and the disability rights movement. Cade will speak of her personal experiences with social justice causes and the connections between these movements and communities. She will feature highlights drawn from her extensive photograph archive acquired by The Bancroft Library over the past several years.

We hope to see you there.

José Adrián Barragán-Álvarez and Kathi Neal

Bancroft Library Staff


Resource: OldNYC Mapping historical photos from the NYPL

OldNYC provides an alternative way of browsing the extensive collection of Photographic Views of New York City, 1870s-1970s held at the New York Public Library. The site was created (in collaboration with others) by software engineer Dan Vanderkamof, who also built OldSF. Each of the websites is an interactive city map that contains dots at the locations where each photo was captured. Click on a dot to see historic photos of that location.


Primary Sources: Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information Photograph Collection

“The photographs in the Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information Photograph Collection form an extensive pictorial record of American life between 1935 and 1944. This U.S. government photography project was headed for most of its existence by Roy E. Stryker, who guided the effort in a succession of government agencies: the Resettlement Administration (1935-1937), the Farm Security Administration (1937-1942), and the Office of War Information (1942-1944). The collection also includes photographs acquired from other governmental and non-governmental sources, including the News Bureau at the Offices of Emergency Management (OEM), various branches of the military, and industrial corporations.”

These photographs were originally intended to document the need for agricultural assistance and to record how the FSA addressed that need. However, the scope of the collection far exceeded these parameters and the collection encompasses pictures that depict everyday life of Americans, the effects of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, the migration West or to industrial cities of displaced people, and America’s mobilization for World War II. Represented in the collection are works of well-known photographers of the period, including Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Jack Delano, and Esther Bubley.

The images from Black & White negatives have been digitized and can be viewed at the Library of Congress site. A different page provides access to the approximately 1600 color photographs.

Not all of the images were printed, but even so the number of printed images became difficult to manage. The archivist Paul Vanderbilt was hired to arrange them and, recognizing that researchers would approach the collection with different needs, he devised two organizational schemes. He first organized sets of prints into “stories,” generally consisting of images with the same subject matter or from a specific geographic region. These were called LOTs (examples of which can be found in Documenting America: Photographers on Assignment.) The LOTs were microfilmed by the Library of Congress.

The LOTs were then dismantled and the collection was reorganized geographically, and then according to subject classification numbers. The images online can be browsed through a subject index.

This organization scheme is also reflected in the microfiche collection of the printed photographs, called America 1935-1946: the photographs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Security Administration, and the U.S. Office of War InformationThe Library’s copy of this collection is housed in the Newspapers & Microforms Library, located in 40 Doe Library.

Since the unprinted photographs did not have this organizational scheme applied to them, they are not as easily accessible through the online catalog search. After conducting a search, go to the description for any FSA/OWI image and select the “Browse neighboring items by call number” link. The Library of Congress continues its efforts to add metadata to these records so they will increasingly be easier to locate.