“Today is National Voter Registration Day”

Bernie Aumuller, [Deputy Mayor Thomas L.J. Corcoran, with demonstrators, urging all eligible citizens to register to vote, City Hall, New York], October 1946 (2013.115.223)

They were met at City Hall by Deputy Mayor Thomas L.J. Corcoran, who read a proclamation by Mayor O’Dwyer, in which the Mayor urged all citizens of voting age to register this week. PM, October 6, 1946

John Albert, [Citizens lining up to register to vote, Public School 3, 490 Hudson St., New York], October 1946 (2013.115.109)

Registration began in the city yesterday at 5 p.m. Fifteen minutes later, at Public School 3, 490 Hudson St., citizens of the 19th Election District crowded registration tables. Photo by John Albert, PM, October 6, 1946

Archie E. Allen, [John Lewis, Executive Director of Voter Education Project, encouraging two sugar workers to register and vote, Napoleonville, Louisiana], 1975 (DA.3A10.942)

Napoleonville, Louisiana — Voter Education Project (VEP) executive director John Lewis (r.) encourages black sugar cane workers in southern Louisiana to register and vote during recent statewide tour of Louisiana. VEP seeks to implement the Voting Rights Act by advancing minority political participation in the 11 southern states. (Photo by Archie E. Allen)


Today, September 25th, 2018, is National Voter Registration Day.

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Lucien Aigner

Lucien Aigner, In the “salle des pas perdues” during the presidential election, Versailles, 1931 (282.1982)

Lucien Aigner, Election Scene on the Grand Boulevard, 1930 (283.1982)

Lucien Aigner, Ballet Practice at the Grand Opera, Paris, 1934 (340.1982)

Lucien Aigner, “Aeroplage” in Le Touquet, ca.1933 (286.1982)

Lucien Aigner, [Family Airplane], ca. 1933 (291.1982)

In this excerpt, of a crowded lecture at ICP on February 15, 1979, Lucien Aigner speaks, at Cornell Capa’s suggestion, about what it was like to be a photojournalist in the 1930s and the significance of Vu magazine and the European picture press and his own beginnings as an indiscreet photojournalist. Two of the people mentioned are an editor of Vu, Carlo Rim (born Jean-Marius Richard, 1905-1989), and Aristide Briand (1862-1932). Born in Hungary 117 years ago today, September 14, Lucien Aigner was a pioneer of photojournalism, broadcaster, director, and producer for the Hungarian section of the Voice of America, writer; studio portrait artist, and archivist of his own photographs.

Lucien Aigner, Do-it-yourself photography at Steeplechase, Coney Island, New York, 1947 (289.1992)

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Erich Lessing (1923-2018)

Erich Lessing, Russian tanks roll through the streets of Budapest, 1956 (22.1987)

Erich Lessing, Looting a bookstore to burn Communist propaganda, 1956 (32.1987)

Erich Lessing, Looting a bookstore to burn Communist propaganda, 1956 (42.1987)

Erich Lessing, Looting a bookstore to burn Communist propaganda, 1956

Erich Lessing, Crowds destroying statue of Stalin near the National theatre, Budapest, 1956 (31.1987)

Erich Lessing, Crowd outside of the Petöfi Club, a center of intellectual activity, where discussion was relayed by loudspeaker; the Petöfi Club was named for the patriotic 19th-century poet, Sandor Petöf, 1956 (21.1987)

Erich Lessing, Portrait of Lenin removed from wall of City Hall at Gyor, on the shouted demand of a large crowd outside; Gyor, in Northwest Hungary, was a rebel stronghold, 1956 (29.1987)

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September 11, 2001

The New York Times, “U.S. Attacked: Hijacked Jets Destroy Twin Towers and Hit Pentagon in Day of Terror,” September 12, 2001 (2006.30.63)

San Jose Mercury News, “Attack! Trade Towers Fall,” September 11, 2001 (2006.30.370)

The Sacramento Bee, “American Attacked, World Trade Center falls to ground,” September 11, 2001 (2006.30.365)

Hoy, “¡Infamia!”, September 12, 2001 (2006.30.492)

New York Amsterdam News, “Terror Strikes!”, September 13-19, 2001 (2006.30.490)

The Village Voice, “Wish You Were Here,” September 25, 2001 (2006.30.589)

Photographs, ephemera, and over 400 international newspapers comprise ICP’s September 11 Archive; it’s accessible via ICP’s website or the Emuseum database.

Front pages (and a few back pages) of over 400 newspapers from the September 11, 2001 archive.

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Merce Cunningham

Barbara Morgan, Merce Cunningham – Totem Ancestor, 1942 (545.1986)

(Totem Ancestor: Choreography: Merce Cunningham; Music: John Cage; Costumes: Charlotte Trowbridge)

Arnold Eagle, Merce Cunningham in Appalachian Spring, Martha Graham Company, 1944 (552.1987)

(Appalachian Spring: Choreography: Martha Graham; Music: Aaron Copland; Set design: Isamu Noguchi)

Jack Mitchell, Merce Cunningham, 1975 (434.1983)

John Loengard, Merce Cunningham, 1987 (188.1987)

David Seidner, [Merce Cunningham], 1978 (2007.120.13)

“John Cage records his stories of collaborator, dancer Merce Cunningham from 1968 for a ‘Panegyric for Merce Cunningham.'”
From Pacifica Radio Archives.

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John Cage

The large loft on West 18th Street that John Cage shared with Merce Cunningham was a simple, sunny, skylit living-working studio. It was divided into a sleeping area, a working space with a desk right off the kitchen (which was the center of John’s universe since he and Merce were strict macrobiotics), and an area for playing chess that was literally overgrown with plants. There was a long row of south-facing windows and a large central skylight. There was a cat in the loft that he and Merce named “Rimpoche Taxicab.” They amused themselves by putting a cardboard box over Rimpoche the cat and watching it move through the loft inside the box, becoming “Rimpoche Taxicab.” Everything was fun with John Cage – he was extremely serious without ever taking himself seriously. In his twilight years John was preserving his early work and making new work, drawings of smoke and river rocks and new compositions; receiving friends and pilgrims; and always cooking.This was probably John’s last portrait. The chess board is one that he played at with Duchamp; the tool box photographed with all the little screws and nuts and bolts was from his first prepared piano piece in 1937. It was a magical day for me: the guru and his disciple. I said to him: “You know John, reading your book Silence at eighteen had a profound effect on me. And your encouragement over the years has meant more to me than you can imagine.” Without hesitation, he answered in his even high-pitched voice, “Yes, many people tell me that.” And we both laughed. John laughed a lot. He was goodness and generosity personified.

He wasted nothing. Everything was grist for his extraordinary mill and he was appreciative of everything. He took nothing for granted. He talked about how fortunate he and Merce were to have the space, how much he appreciated any kind of recognition. He was gentle, serious, hard-working, brilliant. He was also endlessly quotable: “Avant-garde is a consumptional necessity as we’ve used up all the rest.” and “Anything can be art, all you have to do is change your mind.”

Photographs and words by David Seidner. Artists at Work: Inside the Studios of Today’s Most Celebrated Artists. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1999. pp. 42-49.

Several photos featuring plants in John Cage and Merce Cunningham’s loft and a Polaroid portrait to commemorate John Cage, who was born 106 years ago today.

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Pencils, or Working Together: “It’s fun to make something that you believe in.”

Sol Libsohn (1914-2001), [Worker, American Lead Pencil, Hoboken, New Jersey], 1949 (1297.2005)

Sol Libsohn, [Supervisor evaluating worker, American Lead Pencil, Hoboken, New Jersey], 1949 (1295.2005)

Sol Libsohn, [Shop Steward for Local 77-A of Textile Workers Union, John Lombardo gets details from machinist Rapacioli (right) foreman Miller (second from right) and the two men, who say the new job is too heavy and dirty. Miller suggested they move outside to argue, American Lead Pencil, Hoboken, New Jersey], 1949 (1301.2005)

Sol Libsohn, [Word reaches Jon Lombardo, union steward, that management is trying to pull something. He has consulted with management on the new tank, but had not foreseen the reaction of loaders Dell Aguila and Ciciuto who threaten to walk out. American Lead Pencil, Hoboken, New Jersey], 1949 (1300.2005)

Sol Libsohn, [A conclusion is reached in a four man conference: Management and union agree that immediate steps will be taken to make the job of loading the new $700 tank lighter and less dusty, after which this operation will be handled by one man. American Lead Pencil, Hoboken, New Jersey], 1949 (1299.2005)

Sol Libsohn, [Lunch is no picnic for those in the “pigpen.” An old complaint among workers in the grimy lead department – about 8% of the 650 employees is the lack of a clean place to eat. But because the company’s industrial relations are basically good, this is not a major source of friction. The workers are waiting, with reasonable patience, for a labor- management committee to carry out its plans for a new lunchroom], 1949 (1305.2005)

Sol Libsohn, [Workers outside American Lead Pencil Company playing rock, paper, scissors, American Lead Pencil, Hoboken, New Jersey], 1949 (1306.2005)

Several years ago, not long after the archive moved from New York City to Jersey City, I searched The Museum System database for photographs made nearest to the new location of the archive. (An old brick factory-like building Lewis Hine might have made photographs in, 100 years ago.) The above photos caught my eye. What ever happened to the American Lead Pencil Company? Perhaps The American Lead Pencil Company was located at 5th Street, Willow Avenue and Clinton Streets, in Hoboken. The American Lead Pencil Company was founded in 1861, changed its name to Venus Pen and Pencil Corp. (after its signature pencil) in 1956, and was eventually acquired by Faber-Castell. Some of the above photos were published in Fortune in September, 1949.

This fascinating film: “Working Together: A Case History in Labor-Management Cooperation” (1951), on archive.org features some of the same people, “actual workers and company officials,” who are in Sol Libsohn’s photos.

A case history in labor-management cooperation. Based on a 1949 study “Partnership in Production.” The film traces the actual history of labor relations at American Lead Pencil Co. of Hoboken, N.J. In 1937 unionization was introduced in an atmosphere of bitterness and hostility on both sides, but today a give and take relationship exists to the benefit of both sides. “Working Together

Working Together. A case history of labor – management cooperation. The Labor Committee of the Twentieth Century Fund, whose members are leaders of organized labor, management and the public, believes that thoughtful men [and women] on both sides of the industrial fence are striving for mutual understanding. This film pictures what actually happened in a company which has had nine years of constructive peaceful relations between management and union. No on plant can be typical of all plants. Each one differs from the rest in the way it does things. This is the true story of just one American factory in which both workers and management have learned from hard experience that working together pays. “Working Together

Although the American Lead Pencil Co. appears to have been erased (pencil pun) from Hoboken (and Bayonne). My pencil research (not as pointless as a broken pencil) has lead me down this interesting (of course workers in a pencil factory play rock, paper, scissors) and bold line: just a few blocks from where the above photos are housed in a climate controlled environment (and where this blog post was penned) is the General Pencil Company, where they still (and have been for over 127 years) manufacture pencils.

Four years later, in 1889, Oscar A. Weissenborn, Edward’s son, followed in his father’s footsteps by founding his own pencil company. He began making pencils in a large room of the family home in Jersey City, New Jersey. He set up his own machine shop because at the time it was impossible to buy pencil making equipment. The following year Oscar rented a floor over a grocery, and in 1891 he rented an old mansion for a factory. He called the operation the “Pencil Exchange”. In 1914 he moved into his own factory in Jersey City.
James has taught the art of pencil making to his three children, with his daughter Katie Weissenborn joining the company in 1991. Now James and Katie work side by side selling General’s® Artist Pencils and sharing their passion for art. General Pencil continues to handcraft its pencils using sustained yield genuine California Incense Cedar wood and traditional quality formulas in the same Jersey City factory… [General Pencil continues its] commitment to quality and its drive to create products that are the American-made choice for aspiring and world renowned artists alike. generalpencil.com

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