Guide to the Katherine Joseph Papers
NMAH.AC.0944

Administrative Information

Publication Information

Archives Center, National Museum of American History 2011

Smithsonian Institution
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C., 20013-7012
Phone: 202-633-3270
Email: archivescenter@si.edu

Conditions Governing Access note

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use note

Copyright held by donor. Written permission required prior to obtaining reproductions. Consult with Archives Center staff for contact information. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.

Accruals note

Stacey Kluck donated one (1) 33 1/3 RPM audio disc for "Pins and Needles," from 1962, in 2007.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Donated by Suzanne Hertzberg, daughter of Katherine Joseph, February 20, 2007.

Processing Information note

Processed by Alison Oswald, archivist, September 2011.

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Summary Information

Repository
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Creator
Hertzberg, Suzanne
Creator
Joseph, Katherine
Title
Katherine Joseph Papers
ID
NMAH.AC.0944
Date
1938-[2002?] (bulk 1941)
Extent
2.0 Cubic feet  includes one audio disc (3 boxes)
Language
English
Language of Materials note
Some materials in Spanish.
Abstract
Papers document Katherine Joseph's career as staff photographer for the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. The papers contain negatives and prints taken in Mexico, and some photographs of a White House event in 1938, featuring Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt; images of American workers on the home front during World War II; and a typescript thesis about Katherine Joseph by her daughter, Suzanne Hertzberg, titled Photo by Katherine Joseph, [2002?].

Preferred Citation note

Title and date of item, Katherine Joseph Collection, 1937-1948, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, box number X, folder number XX, digital file number XXXXXXX

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Biographical/Historical note

Katherine Joseph (1908?-1990) was active as a professional photographer from 1937 to 1948. Much of her time was spent as a staff photographer for the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU) in New York City. Her photographs documented workers on the shop floors and union activities. Joseph also photographed American workers on the homefront during the Second World War, and in 1941, Joseph undertook a photojournalistic tour of Mexico.

The Willy-Overland Company gave three American women (Katherine Joseph, Thelma Goldman, and Andree Vilas-Graham) a sedan dubbed "Willy" to make a photojournalistic trip to Mexico as part of the Good Neighbor Policy. Willys was the brand name used by Willys-Overland Motors, an American automobile company founded by John North Willys and best known for its design and production of military Jeeps during the 20th century.

The "Willy" that Joseph and her friends drove to Mexico was a powder blue Model 441. Their south-of-the-border adventure held only one obligation, to send back to the United States photographs featuring themselves and "Willy" against the Mexico landscape. Katherine Joseph took photographs and Thelma Goldman wrote about their travels using a portable typewriter. When the women arrived in Mexico City they secured press passes from the Minister of Information. A letter of introduction from New York Herald Tribune correspondent Jack O'Brien presented them as journalists doing "publicity."

One of Joseph's most notable assignments was a 1938 visit to the White House where she photographed the cast of ILGWU's Broadway revue, "Pins and Needles," performed for President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the invitation of Eleanor Roosevelt. After the Second World War, Joseph left her photographic career to look after her family.

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Scope and Contents note

The collection consists of negatives and photographs from Ms. Joseph's career as staff photographer for the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. There are also images taken in Mexico, and some photographs of a White House event in 1938, featuring Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt; images of American workers on the home front during World War II; correspondence and travel notes; and a typescript thesis about Katherine Joseph by her daughter, Suzanne Hertzberg.

Series 1, Historical Background, 1941 and [2002?], consists of a typescript thesis from [2002?] for the Professional Writing Program at the University of Southern California,  Photos by Katherine Joseph by her daughter, Suzanne Hertzberg, and correspondence and travel notes from a photojournalistic trip to Mexico in 1941.

The correspondence is organized into three sections, Tayoltita in Northwest Mexico, the 1941 Colima, Mexico earthquake, and Thelma Goldman. In addition to the correspondence there are typescript captions for some of the photographs and annotated drafts of travel notes detailing the Mexico trip.

Series 2, Photographic Negatives and Prints, [1941?] and undated, consists of negatives and prints for garment workers and the photojournalistic trip to Mexico. The negatives and prints are housed together in 4" x 5" envelope enclosures. Captions and other information about the negative/print is provided on the envelope. The majority of negatives and prints are undated, and there is no arrangement. Some enclosures bear numbers, but their significance is unknown. It is possible the numbers relate to Suzanne Herzberg's thesis,  Photos by Katherine Joseph.

Series 3, Photographic Prints, 1938, 1941 and undated, is further divided into four subseries topically: Subseries 1, International Ladies Garment Workers Union; Subseries 2, Labor; Subseries 3, Mexico and Subseries 4, Subjects. The photographs are 8" x 10" black-and-whites taken by Katherine Joseph and some by Harry Rubenstein, another journalist. The photographs are arranged topically. Some of the photographs have captions and/or annotations, and almost all bear a stamp "photo by Katherine Joseph."

Series 4, "Pins and Needles" (audio disc), 1962, consists of one (1) 33 1/3 RPM audio disc from the "Pins and Needles" twenty-fifth anniversary. The music and lyrics for "Pins and Needles" was by Harold Rome. "Pins and Needles" was originally produced by the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union on November 27, 1937. Created by Max Danish, an editor of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU)'s newspaper  Justice, the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union used the Princess Theatre in New York City as a meeting hall. The union sponsored an inexpensive revue with ILGWU workers as the cast and two pianos. Because of their factory jobs, participants could rehearse only at night and on weekends, and initial performances were presented only on Friday and Saturday nights. The original cast was made up of cutters, basters, and sewing machine operators. "Pins and Needles" looked at current events from a pro-union standpoint.

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Arrangement note

The collection is divided into three series.

Series 1, Historical Background, 1941, [2002?] and undated

Series 2, Photographic Negatives and Prints, 1941 and undated

Series 3, Photographic Prints, 1938, 1941 and undated

Subseries 1, International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU), undated

Subseries 2, Labor, undated

Subseries 3, Mexico, undated

Subseries 4, Subjects, 1938, 1941 and undated

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Related Materials

Related Archival Materials note

Materials in National Museum of American History, Division of Political History

Division holds some materials related to the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.

Genre(s)

  • Photographs--Black-and-white photoprints--Silver gelatin--1930-1940

Geographic Name(s)

  • Mexico

Personal Name(s)

  • Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
  • Roosevelt, Franklin D., (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945

Subject(s)

  • Labor
  • Labor unions
  • Photographers--New York
  • Textile industry

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Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements note

Stored off-site. Arrangements must be made with the Archives Center staff two weeks prior to a scheduled research visit.

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Collection Inventory

Series 1, Historical Background, 1941, [2002?] and undated 

Photos by Katherine Joseph (thesis), undated 


  Box Folder
Text   1 1

Correspondence, 1941 


  Box Folder
Text   1 2

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Series 2, Photographics Negatives and Prints, 1941 and undated 

Subseries 1, Garment workers, undated 

Box
1
Folder
3

Subseries 2, Mexico, 1941 

Box
1
Folder
4-5
Box
2
Folder
1-4

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Series 3, Photographic Prints, 1938, 1941 and undated 

Subseries 1, International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU), undated 

Dubinsky, David, undated 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   2 5

Factories, undated 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   2 6

Miscellaneous, undated 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   2 7

Portraits, undated 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   2 8

Subseries 2, Labor, undated 

Labor (parade), undated 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   2 9

Labor (welder), undated 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   2 10

Subseries 3, Mexico, 1941 

Mexico (Acapulco), 1941 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   2 11

Mexico (bull fighting), 1941 


  Binder Folder
Graphic materials   2 12

Mexico (close-ups), 1941 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   2 13

Mexico (earthquake), 1941 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   2 14

Mexico (Good Neighbor), 1941 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   2 15

Mexico (market scenes), 1941 

Mexico (overland to mines), 1941 

Mexico (Palm Sunday), 1941 

Mexico (El Tambor), 1941 

Mexico (Tayoltita), 1941 

Mexico (rural scenes), 1941 

Mexico (village and urban scenes), 1941 

Subseries 4, Subjects, 1938, 1941 and undated 

Jewish religious service, undated 

Joseph, Katherine, undated 

Joseph, Katherine (in Mexico), 1941 

LaGuardia, Fiorello, undated 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   3 11

Pins and Needles, 1938 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   3 12

Ship launching, 1944 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   3 13

Stage performers, undated 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   3 14

Tuttle, Mercy and Bob Everett in Mexico, 1941 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   3 15

[Vilas-Graham?], Andree (in Mexico in "Willy" the car), 1941 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   3 16

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Series 4, "Pins and Needles" (audio disc), 1962 

Disk
944.1

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