The collection consists of photographs from Magnum Photos' New York bureau, dating
from 1929 to 2004. Black-and-white gelatin silver prints make up the bulk of the
collection, but also included are a few color prints, ink jet prints, and copy
transparencies. The photographs show the world and its people, events, issues,
geography, and personalities as captured through the lenses of Magnum members.
images in this collection were made to distribute to publishers, the media,
advertisers, and museums and galleries from around the globe. Nearly half the
photographs were sent out for assignments and returned, and thus show evidence
much handling. The backs of many of the photographs are marked and stamped, evidence
of their usage and means for refiling.
Since its foundation in 1947, Magnum has used a number of filing systems (the current
system arranges photographs by story number). The original physical order of the
collection is preserved, but in order to facilitate search and retrieval, this
preliminary inventory groups similar photographs in the following five series:
Series I, Photographers; Series II, Personalities; Series III, Subjects; Series
Geographical; and Series V, Magnum. The bulk of the materials are listed at
box-level only. All subjects and titles in this preliminary inventory are those
assigned by Magnum.
The first series, Photographers, is comprised of boxes containing the works of single
photographers only, and it is in alphabetical order by photographer. In general
boxes follow each photographer's career chronologically, occasionally ending with
portfolio of exhibition prints. Box descriptions that are seven digits long (e.g.,
1944001) are for specific stories; the first four digits represent the year of
story and the last three digits represent the story number within a given year.
Series II, Personalities, consists of images of notable figures from around the
world. Included are portraits and snapshots of world leaders, politicians, artists,
authors, activists, sports figures, actors and actresses, designers, architects,
musicians, and other celebrated people. Each personality received his or her own
folder, so the majority of boxes show a range of names rather than a single name.
Individual names are displayed either as they appear in the Library of Congress
Authority File (LCNAF) or have been formed in accordance with the Anglo American
Cataloging Rules 2nd revision (AACR2r). Dates appearing in conjunction with names
are the life and/or death dates of the subject.
The third series, Subjects, consists of generic, domestic topical subjects, and
excludes personalities and foreign countries. All subjects are listed
Series IV, Geography, is divided first by continent or world region, and then
subdivided by country and listed alphabetically.
The final series, Magnum, is comprised of portraits and snapshots of Magnum
photographers, staff, contributors and meetings. Additionally there are groups
images collected by Magnum members for specific projects. Individual names are
displayed either as they appear in the LCNAF or have been formed in accordance
the AACR2r. Dates appearing in conjunction with names are the life and/or death
dates of the subject.
This preliminary inventory was created to provide immediate access to the collection.
In the interest of preserving the original state of the archive, folders not
containing any photographs were left in place and listed but are marked as empty
this inventory. Boxes and/or folders not described in Magnum's original inventory
are noted as such. In the future, more detailed, folder-level information will
added. All personalities will be listed individually, and all subjects and
geographical locations will contain subcategories.