The Forgotten Fifties: America’s Decade from Look Magazine

The Forgotten Fifties: America’s Decade from Look Magazine


>>From the Library of
Congress in Washington D.C.>>John Cole: Well,
good late afternoon. I’m John Cole. I’m the Director for the Center
for the Book in the Library of Congress, and I would like
to welcome you to a Books and Beyond presentation by
the, sponsored by the Center for the Book and the
Library’s Publishing Office. The Center for the
Book is the reading and literacy promotion arm
of the Library of Congress, and we promote books and
literacy around the country through state Centers for the
Book and other organizations. We also sponsor the new Library
of Congress Literacy Awards which are funded by
David Rubenstein, and we also feature
noon time talks about brand new books related to
the Library of Congress which, in this case, as you know,
is a wonderful book titled “The Forgotten Fifties” and
I’ll be the first one to say that we’re also gone back to
the technology of the ’50s for this presentation. It was all part of a plan,
so we’re pleased you’re here. We’re going to stick
with our basic agenda which would be a presentation,
a brief period for questions and answers if we have
time because we need to start the book
signing at about 1:00. But, I’d like to remind you that
we do film all of these programs for the Library of Congress’s
website, and assuming that we are able to squeeze in a
brief question and answer period in which we hope you
participate, your participation in effect is giving
us permission to perhaps include you as part
of the website presentation. With that in mind, I’d like
to please turn off all things electronic and to settle
in for an interesting kind of audio-visual presentation
to get us started. And, as I said, we’re
very pleased to have the Publishing
Office as a cosponsor, and you will hear not only
from members of the staff, but you will also have
a wonderful chance to see this terrific
Library of Congress resource, the Look Magazine collection. To get us started, I’m pleased
to introduce Tom Weiner who is from the Publishing Office and is the actual
editor of this volume. And, Tom will handle
the introductions of our other participants and orchestrate the audio-visual
show that you are about to see. Tom, let’s give Tom a hand. [ Applause ]>>Tom Weiner: I know I
don’t look like Vanna White, but I’m going to play her
in a few minutes here. We had these posters made
up as a kind of visual aid to the presentation of the Book
Festival, and it turns out, we actually need them today. So, without further ado,
I’m going to get started and tell you something about
how this book came about. “The Forgotten Fifties”
was conceived ten years ago when Amy Pastan,
our photo editor, suggested to Ralph Eubanks
who’s the former Director of the Library’s
Publishing Office that the Look Magazine
collection in the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division would
make an invaluable resource for a book. A few years later, Ralph
and Jim Conaway, our author, were discussing book
ideas, and the idea of focusing on the
1950s came up. Ralph later whetted that
idea to Amy’s suggestion, and he brought Amy and Jim
together to work on a proposal for a book about the 1950s
using Look photographs. Look Magazine was published
between 1937 and 1971. It was a large format general
interest magazine whose pages focused as much on
photography as on words. Look was owned by the Coles
family who published newspapers in Iowa and Minnesota,
though the editorial offices for this magazine
were in New York. The Library of Congress acquired
the magazine’s photo archive after Look closed in 1971. The Look collection is the
largest single collection in the Library’s Prints
and Photographs division with an estimated
five million items. Although its photographs
have been used in publications before ours, “The Forgotten Fifties” makes
the most extensive use to date of the Look collection with over
150 photos credited to Look. We also used about two
dozen other pictures from the P and P collections. So, what was a typical
issue of Look? Well, there were articles on
women’s fashion and beauty, on movie and television stars, on what the magazine
dubbed all-American cities, and you’ll learn about that in a
minute in detail, and on sports. In the 1950s when the
magazine really hit its stride, it also ran features on
the Cold War and the rise of Joseph McCarthy and the
red scare he personified. Also, on race relations in
the aftermath of 1954’s Brown versus Board of Education
Supreme Court Decision and on women’s issues. The magazine frequently took
the temperature of the country with features like
“What’s on America’s Mind?” For this series of
articles which ran in 1951, Look sent four staff
photographers to every state in the country, and the result
was an evocative portrait of a country which six
years after the end of World War II was caught up in another much more
bewildering conflict in Korea. We chose to call this book “The
Forgotten Fifties” in reaction to nostalgia for that decade
which is persistently glossed over as darker and
more complex features. Many politicians and cultural
commentators tout the ’50s as a simpler and more
prosperous time in this country, but the creators of this book
believe it was a deceptively simple time. And, we know that
not everyone shared in that decade’s
fabled prosperity. When I started working on
this project, Ralph told me, “This book is not about
the ‘Happy Days’ ’50s. This book is about
the ‘Mad Men’ ’50s.” Yes, Look carried plenty
of articles and photos to reinforce the Richie
Cunningham view of that decade, but they also carried
reporting and photography that reflected a Don
Draper view as well. “Forgotten” in our title
also refers to Look’s place in our cultural memory. After its demise in 1971, Look
didn’t have the staying power of its more popular
competitor Life Magazine. In this book, we tried to show
how Look provided a unique view of the ’50s, not overtly
political, but also bolder and more courageous
than might be expected for a large circulation
glossy magazine. And, thanks to Amy’s diligence,
many Look collection photographs in “The Forgotten Fifties”
were never even published in the magazine. “The Forgotten Fifties” revisits
what some historians have called a crucial decade, a time of immense contrasts
and social turmoil. We found a number of
dramatic pictures of a man in Mississippi named J.W.
Malamb [assumed spelling], acquitted of murder
because he was white, and his victim was a young
black boy named Emmitt Till. Of a Little Rock family
protesting the immigration of Central High School. And, oops. And, of many other
aspects of the ’50s. I’m going to shorten
my introduction here so we can move on. I wanted to introduce
Jim Conaway who is going to do some readings
from the book. He wrote the text in reaction
to the photographs, and I’ll do, as best I can, hold up the
photographs he’s talking about from the posters
we’ve made. So, without further
ado, Jim Conaway. [ Applause ]>>James Conaway:
Hello, everybody. Welcome to the 1950s. I think the fact that we
don’t have PowerPoint is right in keeping with the
subject matter. So, we’ll just pretend
that we’re really here. I wanted to say a
word about the voice in this book which
is a narrative. We decided to do
it year by year, starting in 1950
through the end. I had to come up with
some way to do it. This isn’t your ordinary
history of a period. It’s really an impressionistic
take on one person’s reaction to the photographs that Amy was
able to dig up after we went through copies of the magazine and saw what was available
and what we wanted. And, I decided that the best
way to do this, the only way, and the most fun way to do
this would be to assume a kind of first person plural voice
whereas the person looking at this, not so much one
person looking at the magazine and thumbing through it,
but sort of an accumulation of people and points of view
that I had to sort of build up in my head as kind of an
average, somewhat well educated, somewhat skeptical, American
who had other things on his or her mind than just reading
a magazine, the way most of us, even when I was a kid, would go through magazines
and turn the pages. So, without further ado, we’re
going to have the first picture. Thanks, Tom.>>Tom Weiner: Think
I’m tall, huh?>>James Conaway: So, I
would just, I just looked at this picture and
reacted to it and tried to transcend the years. Those hats. Not the fact that so many men
wear them, but their uniformity. Squarely positioned, broad
brimmed, but not too broad. Looking good matters,
although none of the men on the train platform
seems aware of mirrors or anything else
that might interfere with their own orderly
procession into Park Forest, Illinois, one of Look’s
all-American cities. The hats vary slightly,
different dents, crowns, colored bands, but it
collectively comprise a vast, ambulatory canopy
above the city’s and the nation’s malehood,
protecting it as much from powerful forces difficult to comprehend as
from rain and sun. “Let the face determine
brim width,” Look advises men
looking for a hat. “Correct business
attire demands a hat.” Buying and wearing one
meet the two clear, overriding social
concerns in the dead center of the American century,
conformity and consumption. “The Honeymooners”
has now been a sketch on Jackie Gleason’s show
for five years, so popular, they’re making it into
a series all its own. This intimate glimpse into
the lives of two couples in the same apartment
building is supposed to be about domesticity in urban
America, but it seems to be more about affection, perseverance,
and the absurdity of ambition at the bottom of
the economic ladder. Gleason volcanically
rages at Art Carney, but quickly runs out of steam. His dreams and endless
frustrations hilarious and touching. Carney’s best t-shirt and hat
with the upturned brim are as alien to the suburbs as
Gleason’s busman jacket, like the grim efficiency
of the walkup flat, garishly improved
for color television. Carney’s patience is saintly, as if he instinctively accepts
the limitations Gleason can’t. the two of them just
lovable, hapless boy-men. They’re yoked in an
emerging portrait of an alternative American
male who has nothing in common with the supposedly real men we
see in the car and clothes ads. At the conclusion of the last
war, 800,000 women were fired from jobs in aircraft,
automotive, and other industries
to make way for men. Women belong in the home
now, using their pretty heads to advance their
husband’s careers. They try to look sexy and
housebound at the same time, one-piece bathing suits for
beauty contests and for sitting in the kiddie pool in leafy
neighborhoods far from the city. Skirts are long, underwear
powerfully conforming. Matrons look matronly,
but then so do teenagers, many of whom are taking up
sewing two-piece patterns. Women still on America’s
assembly lines look neither matronly nor even if pretty,
remotely like the women on magazine covers who seem to
have been poured into molds, dusted with pancake makeup,
teeth preternaturally white, their roars of hair
luminously, lusciously blonde, their good humor
painfully intense. Even surfers and their
girlfriends at Waikiki Beach and busy, young Americans
rolling eggs or whatever on weekends seem desperate
to enjoy themselves. A 19-year-old model featured
in Look, long legged, lean as a sapling scrubbed
works hard, rods and dances, sings in a choir, can’t
wait to get married. She’s already got her man. Movies reflect an unsettling, almost entirely white
cinematic America in a way they haven’t before. Asphalt jungle belongs to
the old conforming order of low-class white
criminals in their own world with heavy Sterling Hayden and a striking young
actress, Marilyn somebody. But, there’s a new type of
troubling actor very much in our world, like
Montgomery Clift. What’s he looking at in
that photograph anyway? Not at us, that’s for sure. At nothing’s more like it. But, nothing is what Americans
don’t want to see, although many of us are intrigued by
actors who look distracted, overly serious, unpredictable,
impossible to ignore, bad. Clift’s kind of puny and wears a
wrinkled, white t-shirt instead of something with a collar. He’s sucking on a finger,
behavior unimaginable in a Bob Hope or a Bing Crosby
who’s often photographed with a perfectly
normal chesterfield between his fingers, his
lazy eyes focused archly and familiarly on the lens. His song, “Chattanooga
Shoeshine Boy” is right above Frank Sinatra’s “Good
Night Irene” on the charts, but it’s hard to imagine
Clift singing anything. Are these new actors
influenced by an ism? Could existentialism have
something to do with the fact that the glass of milk in
front of Clift’s untouched. You get the feeling he
doesn’t intend to drink it, not exactly un-American, but
different, like those paperbacks on the breakfast table. That’s the end of that. In the south, we’re
pretty close to slavery. That’s according to
a shocking article by a negro reporter named Carl. Rolling who visits and
finds that the color of my skin counted
above all things. He discovered dismal squalor
and had old wounds opened. Look at those black kids
without shoes and white babies with new ones sitting
on the laps of the black nannies
whose expressions say more than any words. Not just their inequality and
doubt but also perseverance and could that be irony? Wives and children
need to look good, but to be protected
also and have some fun. Kids in the portable pool
on the lawn are rambunctious but not too, their
bodies bright in the sun, the shadows starkly defined. There’s something touching about the little
boy’s eyeglasses, like his seriousness. He’s going to enjoy
himself, period. Mom has her own pool and is reading a magazine either
enjoying or improving herself. Maybe both. Her arms are propped on
the blow-up pool sides and the bright, plaid,
one-piece bathing suit and sunglasses become her. So too the raised knee
and polished toenails. There’s another empty blow up
pool on a neighbor’s porch, leaning against the wall. It’s hot in Park Forest,
and everybody’s going to make the best of it
when they get the chance. Thanks, Tom. Here’s Joe McCarthy again,
foremost scourge of communists in America taken on by the
foremost broadcast newsman, Edward R. Murrow. He rode the airwaves during
the Nazi blitz of London. Murrow’s closing line, then,
“Good night and good luck,” is still his signature
on television. Murrow criticized
McCarthy’s methods in clinging to the widespread communist
conspiracy in America. Most everything about Murrow,
thick hair, chiseled, thick, dark, chiseled hair, angular
face, dour expression is in contrast to McCarthy
whose moonlight visage and 5:00 shadow are now
well known to Americans. So are the wisps of hair
that fall over his forehead as he denounces people
in the State Department and the military in that
relentless monotone. He calls Murrow “the
cleverest of the jackal pack” after Murrow’s broadcast which
is hard for anyone to believe. More important, McCarthy
failed to address any of Murrow’s criticisms. The patience and the sympathy
of Americans is peeling away from old Joe like his follicles. I skipped that, skip that. A possibility for President
is that influential Senator from Texas, Lyndon Johnson,
a big, profane Democrat who has a ready answer
for Look’s question, “Can a southerner be
elected President?” The answer is yes, but southern
politicians have been tainted by the furor over continuing
segregation and their reluctance to speak clearly about race. Then, as Look has shown us,
Texas isn’t really southern, but rather a world into itself. A stronger candidate
might be found up north in the higher reaches of wealth
and privilege, the young Senator from Massachusetts, Joe Kennedy. Seems more mainstream
than Johnson, and he’s getting more
publicity of late. Kennedy’s good looks and easy
outdoor manner remind you, for some reason, of one of those
new mentholated cigarettes. His wife’s in a class
by herself, a cross between debutant
and matron. She’s clearly at ease in that
chair, wearing virginal white but also a suggestive
half smile, watching something off camera. It’s probably a child, but
is he or she coming or going? Jackie’s poise there between
beauty and enduring motherhood, the road before her
longer than we can imagine and what will soon be the
outset of a brand-new decade. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Tom Weiner: Amy
Pastan is now going to give you some stories
behind some of the pictures and the photographers
who took them. [ Applause ]>>Amy Pastan: Well, good. This’ll be just like being at
P and P with real photographs. I’m going to offer a
photo editor’s perspective of the images. Can you hear me. They’re tall, so I don’t know. But, first, I’d really like to
thank the publishing office. I’d like to thank
Tom, my editor. I’d like to thank
Jim, my author, and I’d like to thank everyone
in the Publishing Office, everyone in P and P who gave me
a place to work and who just put up with me for months
and months while I looked at endless images
from Look Magazine. I’m going to start with an image by Charlotte Brooks who’s really
somebody people don’t know about but really needs to
be better understood. Charlotte Brooks took this image
of Duke Ellington on the road in 1955, and during her tenure
at Look Magazine from 1951 to 1971, Charlotte was the only
female photographer on staff. And, when I say that,
I don’t mean that there weren’t other female
photographers working for Look, but they were freelance, and
she was actually a staff member. She produced more than 450
jobs that are currently here at Prints and Photographs. Look Magazine achieved
its highest circulation in the years she was there,
growing from 3.7 million in 1954 and peaking at 7.75
million in 1969. And, it graced the
coffee tables and dens of middle-class families
throughout the United States. Brooks’ contribution to
the magazine and the field of photojournalism is
especially significant because she defied traditional
roles of gender, female, religion, Jewish, and
sexual orientation, lesbian, to achieve success. Her artful and intimate images
were so closely identified with the Look style that
she was often referred to as Miss Look instead
of Miss Brooks. At Look, Brooks became
one of the guys, refusing to be pigeonholed as a photographer
of women’s subjects. He volunteered for adventures,
sometimes dangerous assignments, underwater shoots in the
deep sea, aerial shots from helicopters over
L.A., and bus tours in the rural, segregated south. Here, she captures band
leader Duke Ellington, Mr. Hi-Fi of 1955 in a pickup
baseball game with members of his orchestra during
their tour through Florida. He was at the top of his
game in the music world, but he had to stay at the
Astor, a colored motel, as the sign indicates, in
segregated Gainesville. So, the next image that
Tom is bringing over is from a helicopter
evacuation in Korea in 1952. This was taken by Earl Teason. This is a real-life episode of
“MASH” but without the humor. Korean War soldier Private
Arthur Nelson, his leg smashed by Chinese burp gunfire, lies on a litter while his buddies
watch a helicopter pilot fix his strap for the hop to
the field hospital. Look photographer Teason was
there to capture this scene, the soldiers huddling around
their falling comrade. Note the soldier at left,
his hand touching the back of the soldier in front of
him in a gesture of comfort and reassurance and the soldier
kneeling before Private Nelson wishing him farewell or maybe
just to keep your chin up. Teason’s poignant photo does
not glorify combat but speaks to the very personal
tragedy of war. This same photographer looking
for Look, working for Look on the west coast would
photograph Audrey Hepburn, Perry Como, Elizabeth
Taylor, and Marilyn Monroe. How did he end up in a battle
zone so far from Hollywood? It seems that like many of
his colleagues, a good eye, strong sense of compassion,
and an ability to become one with his surroundings
stood him in good stead. He traveled the world and
photographed hundreds of stories for Look, and as his daughter
recalled, “Dad loved his job, and how many people
can say that? He was so enthusiastic about
a new lens, about a new story. I think he would
vibrate with enthusiasm when he knew he got the shot, when he knew his subject
was captured on film.” Bill Haley. So, Bill Haley and the Comets
and Laverne Baker performed at the Sport Arena in Hershey,
Pennsylvania on April 23, 1956, and the image that
Thomas Halding shows that they really
rocked the place. Look photographer Ed
Feingersh was there, and he trained his lens on this
writhing, shirtless teenager, completely caught
up in the moment. And, more than any other shot
he took of the band performing that night, I only know this because I looked at
thousands of them. This image conveys the raw power of a new music genre,
rock and roll. It was an all body liberating
experience, and it was this kind of behavior that led many
parents of ’50s teenagers to equate rock and
roll with the devil. 1956 was Elvis’s big year, but
Haley had staked a claim to rock and roll two years before
with the release of “Rock Around the Clock” which
was recorded in 1954. That anthem was number one
on the charts for eight weeks and went on to sell 25
million copies worldwide. I’ve looked all over for a bio
of photographer Ed Feingersh, but I haven’t found one except
for a posting on Facebook by a man who says that Feingersh
was his boy scout troop leader and photography teacher. He claims that Feingersh was
a Holocaust survivor who came to the U.S. after World War II
and studied photography at NYU. The Library of Congress only
has three Look assignments by Feingersh who is
said to have died young. And, now, we’re going to look at
one that Jim also talked about. It’s of a lingerie
saleswoman in 1950, an unforgettable image
by Stanley Kubrick. Stanley Kubrick’s films
“Lolita,” “Dr. Strangelove,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,”
“A Clockwork Orange,” and “The Shining”
defined an era. But, before he made films,
Kubrick taught himself how to use a camera, and in
1945 at age 17 sold an image to Look Magazine for $25. He eventually became a full-time
staff member photographer for Look, and he was
the youngest ever hired. He worked there until 1950 when
he left to pursue the projects that would earn him fame. The photographs show
an emerging talent. The dramatically lit, strongly
composed pictures engage the viewer. Even for this shoot of a lingerie saleswoman seen
here appraising her wares on a live chain-smoking
model in Chicago in 1949, there is an eeriness and tension
between the two women as well as between them and the viewer
that is powerful an memorable. The model, front facing,
semi-clothed and ensconced in smoke, is bold in every way,
but the ambition and judgment of the saleswoman
at the desk seated and more passive is what
really counts in this business. The story, “Traveling
Saleswoman” ran in Look in March 1950 and documented the
work and travels of Sue Hughes who was employed for the
Form Fit company in Chicago. Look was progressive in
that they covered the lives of working women in the ’50s when women’s careers were often
trivialized or simply ignored. Men in Hats. We’ve seen this. Again, you know, trying to get
sometimes what, why I chose it and what Jim wrote
really meshed. And, sometimes, you know, they
didn’t, but it didn’t matter. [laughs] But, I think
we agreed on this one. So, this is by Bob
Sandberg from 1954. Men came back from World
War II and went to work. They married, had children, and by the early ’50s moved
their families to the suburbs. Look photographer Bob Sandberg
documented the new suburban experience in a February
9, 1954 story that focused on Park Forest, Illinois. This was a planned
community that offered housing for veterans and was
just outside of Chicago. And, it was a paradise
for the new middle class. There were modern homes,
green lawns, schools, parks, and regular train
service into the city. Here, we see the Park Forest
army of commuters in the uniform of the time, hats,
suits, skinny ties, and a few shirtwaist
dresses for secretaries, all reminiscent of TV’s Mad Men. They have just streamed from
a train onto the platform which can barely
accommodate all the bodies, and there’s a gridlock waiting to descend the stairs
to the station. The image has great perspective with tiny hats visible all
the way to the horizon. The composition stresses the
herd mentality of these workers who seem to have sacrificed
their individuality for suburban life. Sandberg was an early
employee of the magazine, starting as a darkroom
operator shortly after it published its
first issue in 1937. He became an accomplished
photographer, staying on for 32 years, almost until the magazine
ceased operations in 1971. In addition to documenting
the lives of many Americans whose
names we’ll never know, he photographed scores
of celebrities from Jackie Robinson
to Jack Kennedy. Okay. The next image
is by John Vashon. He’s one of my favorite
photographers in that library’s collection. You probably know him as a
Farm Security Administration photographer, but
then afterwards, he went to work for Look. Let’s see here. So, I’m going to
read you a little bit of what the catalog
record says for this image. The catalog record is
the thing you find online under the job number for
each Look project as follows. It says, “Photographs
show African Americans and segregation in the south,
primarily in Mississippi. Includes signs indicating where African Americans
can enter establishments, purchase movie tickets,
eat, use toilets, purchase a house, be buried. African American men and women
in a variety of occupations, street sweeping, digging
ditches, picking cotton, hotel bellhop, shoe
shiner, pumping gas, farmers selling tobacco. African American women
caring for white children, men and women in pickup
truck for day work, African American
children attending school, African American men
lounging outside stores, side view of city bus with
whites seated in front, blacks in rear, also
dilapidated housing. So, you get the idea of what
all these contact sheets I was reviewing were showing
me, and of course, this is an unforgettable image. As I said, John Vashon was
a photographer with the FSA, a New Deal program,
before going to Look and then on to Standard Oil. Actually, he went to
Standard Oil, I’m sorry, and then going to Look. The article accompanying
his images was by an African American
journalist called Carl, named Carl Ron. Look sometimes was liberal,
and they titled this piece “How Far From Slavery?” And, they ran it in their
January 15, 1952 issue. When I first saw the images, I couldn’t believe they
had been shot in the ’50s, they so reminded
me of photographs from the early 20th century
depicting the desperate poverty and overt abuse of
southern blacks. How ironic that the pristine
and pudgy little white children in this photo at their
tender ages had more rights and privileges than the
black women who posed, a little sheepishly it
seems, for Mr. Vashon. And, I’m going to close with
a quintessential ’50s image. I don’t know why this
says ’50s to me totally. And, again, this was taken
in Park Forest, Illinois. The mom in the pool from 1954. The job was credited to both
Bob Sandberg and Jack Star, so I don’t really know which
one of them took this picture. Like the earlier view of suburban commuters warily
alighting from a local train, this image was taken
in Park Forest. For those who didn’t commute,
like this stay at home mom, there was a different kind
of security and sameness to this suburban experience. Park Forest was safe for kids. There, outside one’s
tidy new home, you and your neighbors could
enjoy each other’s company while watching over the children. Maybe, if you were lucky,
you could steal a few minutes to yourself, reading a magazine in your son’s kiddie pool while
the kids splashed each other mercilessly in the
pool belonging to the people next door. Then, one imagines, you can
haul the kids inside, bathe them and feed them an early supper
while you donned a shirtwaist dress and pearls and prepared
supper for the tired husband who would soon walk
through the front door. The photo highlights the
best and worst of the decade for women, having it all but perhaps wanting
something different. I always wonder when I look
at this image if the mom in the pool would rather be
making waves somewhere else. Thank you. [ Applause ] Thanks, Tom. [ Applause ]>>Tom Weiner: Amy and Jim will
take some questions from you. We have about ten minutes, and just a note before we start
the questions about the books that are on sale today. We discovered last week a
production error in the book, and we have the correct pages
inserted in all the books that are for sale today. It’s only two pages, and it’s
right at the end of the book. So, if you find those two pages
that seem to be odd pages, that’s what they’re doing there. Those are the correct
photo credits for the book. Jim, Amy, come on back up. Let’s answer some questions.>>Amy Pastan: You,
too [inaudible]. [ Inaudible Comment ] Let’s see. Some of them are easier
to look at than others. Yes, you could if you have to
have a reader card, and you have to sign in with a purpose
as to what your research is. But, yes. I mean, many of
them exist as contact sheets that can be served in the Prints
and Photographs reading room. There are others, however, the color images
are stored off site, and those are much
harder to see. So, but there’s plenty that
you could probably look at. [ Inaudible Comment ] I think they ask you what
your research purpose is, but I don’t know if anyone in
Prints and Photographs is here who could address that. But, I believe that if you have
a reader card and you’re careful with the material, you
can request the material. [ Inaudible Comment ] We probably both
can talk to that. Oh, sure. I’m sorry. The question was about the
difference between Look and most people think of Life
Magazine also as a magazine of the ’50s and how
are they different and if we could characterize
them. I always think of Look
as the poor man’s Life. I’m not sure that’s really
accurate, but I think it was, more appealed to working
class and dealt more with small town America
and small-town life. It seems like Life Magazine had
the more big-name photographers. They certainly had
Margaret Bourke-White. They had Gordon Parks. They had others. We see the Life images
more because they belong to Getty Images now, and
they’re often on the internet. And they’re, you know, they’re
part of a big corporate entity. But, I do think of Life as being
kind of a more upper-class view of American life at
the time than Look. I don’t know if you
have a feeling.>>James Conaway: No,
no, I agree with that. Also, in addition, Life was
reflected Henry Luce’s view of the triumphant century, the triumphant American
civilization. In fact, it was the
official view of the ’50s that has endured. Look Magazine inadvertently
just said let’s look at the other side a
little bit, and that’s, I think that’s the big
difference between them. It probably, Look probably
is a blue-collar life, but it’s a more interesting,
in some ways, scruffier publication, but
it was a little more daring. [ Inaudible Comment ]>>Amy Pastan: Yes, the
photograph was part of a story about Florida, and it was just about middle class
Americans visiting Florida. I actually did not choose
that as the cover photo, and that is a very
interesting example of what happens in
book publishing. We had many images that
we liked for the cover, and it was so hard
to choose just one. We wanted a, not necessarily
a recognizable or political or celebrity image for the
cover, but just something that showed ’50s life. The designer chose that picture,
and I love it because, you know, there’s, like, people diving
off the diving board just like jumping into a new decade. Yet, it looks ’50s. The color is kind of retro, and that is the accurate
color of the photograph. So, I’m very pleased with
the way it worked out.>>James Conaway:
Just parenthetically, it’s very interesting. If you look at that
photograph, the people are not, its women being thrown into the
new decade by men on two levels. On the top board, there’s a sort
of menacing guy in pink shorts, and below, there’s a sort
of upright Ivy League type. But, the women are
definitely at a disadvantage, and there’s a certain
tension there that I think possibly
the designer overlooked. So, to me, that’s what makes
the photograph interesting. Okay?>>Amy Pastan: Yeah. Okay. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>John Cole: Thank
you, Jim, Amy, and Tom. Tom, we’re so glad
you’re taller than I am. You did a great job. This is the kind of program
we especially enjoy hosting at the Center for the Book
because it does, it describes and in some ways
exploits in the best sense of the word collections that
are not generally available. And, I think the
observations about, for example, Look and Life and the part these
magazines played in our life and then the part that the
Library of Congress got ahold of which happens to be Look
Magazine also gives you a sense of the variety of the
collections in the Library of Congress which, as I
think most of you know, we do have some funds
to purchase materials. But, we look for big gifts, and we don’t take every gift we
are offered, but nonetheless, when a good fortune comes along and the right people
are behind it and the right curators are here
and the right experts are here to help us make choices, it
really is one of the ways that the Library of Congress
itself makes an important contribution to American
culture and American life. So, we hope that, I know
that you enjoyed it. We now move the last part of
every Books and Beyond program which is the book signing
where you’ll have a chance to continue your
discussion with the authors and the writers and
the editor, Tom. And, we hope that you will
buy the book at the Library of Congress discount, have
it signed while you’re here, and always think that
Christmas is on its way. So, you might get a second
or a third book as well. Let’s, one more time, please
thanks Amy, Jim, and Tom. [ Applause ]>>This has been a presentation
of the Library of Congress. Visit us at loc.gov.

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