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Eliot Elisofon:

An Inventory of His Papers and Photographs at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Elisofon, Eliot, 1911-1973
Title: Eliot Elisofon Papers and Photography Collection
Dates: 1930-1988, undated (bulk 1942-1973)
Extent: 151 document boxes (62.97 linear feet), 5 oversize boxes (osb), 1 file cabinet drawer
Abstract: Eliot Elisofon's career as a photojournalist, filmmaker, author, artist, and collector of primitive art and sculpture is documented by photographs, transparencies, slides, negatives, films, research material, notes, photo captions, logbooks, correspondence, agreements and other documents, drafts, proofs, tear sheets, clippings, scrapbooks, catalogs, sketchbooks and artifacts, all dating from 1933 to 1988.
Call Number: Photography Collection PH-00066
Language: English
Access: Open for research with the exception of Elin Elisofon's biography research files (folders 77b.7-79a.4) which require her permission to use. Transparencies may be accessed but require 24 hours advance notice. Negatives cannot be accessed without curatorial approval.

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Gifts, 1992, 1998
Processed by: Katherine Mosley, 1999; Nicole Davis, 2012; Betsy Nitsch, 2015

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Photographer, artist, art collector, author, and filmmaker Eliot Elisofon was born the son of immigrants Sarah and Samuel Elisofon in New York City on April 17, 1911. As a teenager, he became interested in both photography and painting. Elisofon graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School in 1929. For the next few years he worked at the New York State Workmen's Compensation Bureau while attending Fordham University at night, ultimately receiving a B.S. in 1933. Meanwhile, he continued to pursue his interest in photography, and in 1935 Elisofon, Marty Bauman, and Al Weiner opened a commercial photography studio named August and Company. As a commercial photographer, Elisofon expanded from product advertising photographs to fashion photography assignments for magazines such as Mademoiselle and Vogue. He also developed a strong interest in photography as social documentary. Elisofon's photographs documenting New York street scenes were exhibited in 1937 at the Pennsylvania Museum of Art in Philadelphia and at the Julian Levy Gallery in New York. In 1938 his work was exhibited at the East River Gallery and at the New School for Social Research, where he worked as an instructor. After showing his portfolio to the editors at Life magazine in 1937, Elisofon began receiving assignments from that magazine and others and decided to devote his career to photojournalism. He left the studio in 1938 to work as a freelance magazine photographer, producing photographs for magazines such as Fortune, Mademoiselle, Vogue, and Glamour. For Life, he also produced photographic essays on a variety of subjects, ranging from military exercises to refugees, and from actresses and plays to rural poverty in the South. In 1939 Elisofon worked as the first staff photographer for the Museum of Modern Art and became skilled at photographing works of art. He served as the president of the Photo League in 1940.
Elisofon joined the Life staff in 1942 as a war photographer-correspondent, and during World War II he covered the North African front, including General Patton's Tunisian campaign, as well as Sweden, Finland, Hawaii, and the surrender at Wake Island. In the post-war years he began working on large geographical photo essays in the United States and around the world. He had a special interest in Africa and became a collector of African art and an expert in that area. As a member of the Peabody Museum of Salem's 1956 expedition to the South Pacific, led by William A. Robinson, Elisofon photographed the voyage and collected artifacts from the South Sea Islands as the expedition traced the Polynesian migration route. He was appointed a Research Fellow in Primitive Art at Harvard University in 1958, and he was a member of the Harvard Peabody Museum's 1961 expedition to film tribal life in New Guinea. Elisofon remained a staff photographer for Life from 1942 to 1964 and then, although he also pursued freelance and commercial work, he continued to work for Life on a contract basis until the magazine suspended publication at the end of 1972. During those three decades Elisofon traveled more than a million miles on six continents, covering assignments on places, art, architecture, celebrities, food, and social subjects. He continued to do freelance work for Smithsonian magazine, National Geographic, Horizon, and other magazines until his death in 1973.
Elisofon was known for his experiments with color control, and he worked as a color consultant on the films Moulin Rouge, Bell, Book and Candle, and The Greatest Story Ever Told, among others. In 1965 he directed the prologue of the film Khartoum and a portion of Man Builds for National Educational Television. Elisofon was director of creative production for the ABC documentary Africa in 1967, and in 1972 he wrote, produced and directed a four-hour television series for Group W (Westinghouse Broadcasting Company) titled Black African Heritage.
Besides collecting primitive art and sculpture, other interests Elisofon pursued were cooking and painting, and he was able to take advantage of his worldwide travel as a photographer to develop all of these simultaneously. His photographs, watercolor paintings, and objects from his personal collection of primitive art have been exhibited throughout the United States and other countries.
Elisofon frequently lectured on a variety of subjects at museums, colleges and clubs around the country; topics included photography, African art, and his travels. He also wrote numerous articles and essays as well as several books, including the cookbook Food Is a Four-Letter Word (1948), The Sculpture of Africa (1958), Color Photography (1961), The Nile (1964), Java Diary (1969), and Erotic Spirituality (1971). He wrote and illustrated three of a series of Crowell-Collier's children's books showing a week in the lives of children in other countries. Elisofon contributed photographs to Joseph Campbell's edition of Heinrich Zimmer's The Art of Indian Asia (1955) and Arthur Knight's The Hollywood Style (1969), among others, and he also provided illustrations for publications by Time-Life Books, including a "Foods of the World" cookbook series.
Elisofon was married twice and had two daughters, Elin and Jill. Throughout his life Elisofon maintained a primary residence in New York City and a summer home in Maine. Elisofon died in New York City on April 7, 1973, as a result of a massive cerebral hemorrhage.
Elisofon was a founding trustee of the Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C., in 1964 and at the time of his death was a curatorial associate. He bequeathed to that museum not only his collection of African art, but also his photographs, transparencies, and film footage of Africa and its art. The museum became the National Museum of African Art and the photographs are housed in the Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives. Before his death Elisofon also donated pieces of his African and Pacific art collection to that museum, the Museum of Primitive Art in New York, the Peabody Museum of Salem, Massachusetts, the Harvard Peabody Museum, the Metropolitan Museum, and other institutions.

Scope and Contents

Scope and Contents

Eliot Elisofon's career as a photojournalist, filmmaker, author, artist, and collector of primitive art and sculpture is documented by photographs, transparencies, slides, negatives, films, research material, notes, photo captions, logbooks, correspondence, agreements and other documents, drafts, proofs, tear sheets, clippings, scrapbooks, catalogs, sketchbooks and artifacts, all dating from 1933 to 1988. The archive is organized in ten series: I. Photography Files, 1933-1973, undated; II. Film and Television Projects, 1953-1973, 1986; III. Writings and Lectures, 1938-1973; IV. Artwork, 1935-1969, undated; V. Exhibitions, 1936-1986; VI. Private Art Collection, 1939-1969, undated; VII. Food Files, 1943-1969, undated; VIII. Correspondence, 1930-1973, undated; IX. About Elisofon, 1930-1985; and X. Elin Elisofon, 1976-1988, undated. Within each series material is arranged primarily in chronological order. For preservation reasons, photographic materials have been physically separated into three sets of document boxes according to format--prints and paper material, color transparencies, and black and white negatives. Oversize prints and paper material have been removed and housed in flat boxes, and glass slides are housed in a file cabinet drawer. However, the folder list keeps these materials together intellectually.
Elisofon's photography files, the first and largest series, are arranged by the date the photographs were originally taken, as much as can be determined, and not by the date they were published, since the images may have been published much later, in multiple publications, or not at all. Elisofon is remembered primarily as a photographer for Life magazine, as his relationship with that magazine spanned 35 years, and the collection reflects that dominance; the majority of the photographs were taken for that magazine or for Time-Life Books. Other photographs include those taken for personal reasons, for other books and publications, or for commercial assignments.
Other series relate to Elisofon's film and television projects, writings and lectures, artwork, exhibitions, art collection, food files, and correspondence. One series contains various materials about Elisofon, and another relates to his daughter Elin's work on a book and exhibition. Materials relating to films for which Elisofon served as a still photographer only are housed with the photography files, but materials relating to films for which he served in other technical capacities are located in the film series. Elisofon was a published author, and he also served as a visiting lecturer or instructor at numerous universities, museums, and clubs. Materials relating to those writings and lectures form two subseries within the Writings and Lectures series. In addition, Elisofon was an artist noted for his watercolors of nudes and flowers; his sketchbooks, as well as photographs of some of his paintings, can be found in the archive (Series IV). Materials relating to exhibitions of Elisofon's paintings are combined with items relating to exhibitions of his photographs and objects from his collection of primitive art in a single series (Series V). Other manuscripts and photographs, including records of sales and donations, relating to Elisofon's private art collection are located within their own series (Series VI). Elisofon's culinary interest is reflected throughout the collection, and recipes are located in his logbooks as well as in the Food Files series. Wherever possible, materials have been maintained in their original order, so that correspondence located with particular files remains in those files, while other similar correspondence may be found in the Correspondence series. All correspondents in the papers are listed in the Index of Correspondents at the end of this guide.
Material about Elisofon is divided into five subseries. Transcripts and clippings of interviews, published articles, and essays about Elisofon form the first subseries. Scrapbooks, primarily containing early tear sheets and clippings about Elisofon, form the second subseries. Elisofon's personal files of medical papers, financial and legal documents, address books, and the like make up the third subseries. A fourth subseries comprises personal photographs, mainly of Elisofon. The fifth subseries contains periodicals collected by Elisofon that do not contain his work. Elin Elisofon's files from her work on a biography and exhibition on her father (Series IX) conclude the collection.
Because Elisofon's daughter Elin began sorting and organizing the material before it was acquired by the Ransom Center, she is very much a part of the archive. Besides providing much of the arrangement and many titles, she produced her own notes and correspondence; these are scattered throughout the collection, although the bulk of her work files are located in the final series. Eliot's and Elin's folder titles are indicated in the folder list by single quotation marks; these titles are usually the same as the story assignment title given by Life magazine.
Films, a videotape, and three empty film and negative containers have been removed from the archive and are housed separately in the Ransom Center. Books and periodicals, including some issues of Life, have been cataloged separately with the Center's book holdings. Those items are listed as Associated Materials at the end of this finding aid. Other lists at the end of this guide include Elisofon's cover photographs, published photographs of Elisofon, and prints and negatives of Elisofon, his wives and his daughters.

Outline of Series

  • Series I. Photography Files, 1933-1973, undated
  • Series II. Film and Television Projects, 1953-1973, 1986
  • Series III. Writings and Lectures, 1938-1973
  • Series IV. Artwork, 1935-1969, undated
  • Series V. Exhibitions, 1936-1986
  • Series VI. Private Art Collection, 1939-1969, undated
  • Series VII. Food Files, 1943-1969, undated
  • Series VIII. Correspondence, 1930-1973, undated
  • Series IX. About Elisofon, 1930-1985, undated
  • Series X. Elin Elisofon, 1976-1988, undated

Organization by Format Storage

  • Black and white prints, color prints, and paper material, boxes 1-80
  • Oversize material, boxes 81-82
  • Scrapbooks, boxes 83-85
  • Color transparencies, boxes 86-133
  • Black and white negatives, boxes 134-156
  • Glass slides, FC 13.8

Series Descriptions

Series I. Photography Files, 1933-1973, undated (109 boxes)
Elisofon's photography files consist of photographs, negatives, transparencies, and paper documentation, from his early images of New York in the 1930s to his final story assignments in 1973. Significant items include Elisofon's logbooks, which are a valuable record of his travels and assignments. These notebooks contain dated captions, travel information, names and addresses, recipes, and miscellaneous jottings, including poetry and sketches by Elisofon. Among notable files are those for LIFE assignments, including Elisofon's first photographs published in Life, taken for stories on Jewish holidays and tintype street photographers.
Elisofon photographed many well-known personalities during his lifetime. Among these were dancers, including Martha Graham, Anna Sokolow, and the Miriam Winslow-Foster Fitz-Simons troupe; artists, such as Julio De Diego, Marcel Duchamp, Georgia O'Keeffe, and I. Rice Pereira; sculptors, including Chaim Gross, Martin Hebald, Robert Indiana, Henry Moore, Isamu Noguchi, Billy Rose, and William Zorach; musicians and singers, such as Sallie Blair, Maria Callas, Helen Gallagher, and Alexander Schneider; actors, actresses and other celebrities, such as Ursula Andress, Eddie Cantor, Cyd Charisse, Doris Day, Greer Garson, Richard Harris, Helen Hayes, Willie Hartack, Rita Hayworth, Audrey Hepburn, Veronica Lake, Gypsy Rose Lee, Roddy McDowall, Steve McQueen, Minnesota Fats, Kim Novak, Eddie Rickenbacker, Harold Rome, Mickey Rooney, Jane Russell, Barbara Stanwyck, Gloria Swanson, Elizabeth Taylor, Gene Tierney, and Lana Turner; and political figures, such as Harry Truman, U Thant, and Nelson Rockefeller. A Life story on jazz musicians featured Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Dave Brubeck, Chet Baker, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, and Charlie Parker. Numerous Hollywood celebrities, among them Natalie Wood, Charlton Heston, and Henry Fonda, were photographed in their homes for Elisofon's illustrations for Arthur Knight's book Hollywood Style.
Elisofon photographed theatrical productions, including Amahl and the Night Visitors, Compulsion, Mary Stuart, The Millionairess (in London), The Music Man, Romeo and Juliet, Three Penny Opera, Three Wishes for Jamie, Time and the River (Waco, Texas), as well as the making of the films The African Queen, Doctor Dolittle, The Greatest Story Ever Told, Khartoum, Moulin Rouge, She, The Sound of Music, Splendor in the Grass, The War Lord, and others.
Elisofon made photographic records of art and sculpture in museums all over the world, including the Victoria and Albert Museum and British Museum in London, the Musée Guimet in Paris, the Leiden Museum, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Shelburne Museum in Vermont, the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, and the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe. Among Elisofon's many architectural subjects were pyramids in Teotihuacan and Juan O'Gorman's house near Mexico City, Konarak and other temples in India, the Charles Wrightsman house in Palm Beach, the New Museum in Israel, and Bali temples in Indonesia.
Elisofon also photographed historically significant moments. Prior to World War II, he documented the Norfolk Naval Shipyard and training exercises at Fort Benning and Fort Knox, and his photograph of George S. Patton was used as the first color cover of Life. During the war he covered the North African campaign, with much time spent in Tunisia and Casablanca, and among his subjects were Patton, Dwight D. Eisenhower, artist Fletcher Martin, Henri Giraud, and the 4th Indian Division of the 8th Army. He was also present at the surrender at Wake Island. During an assignment on South Dakota, Elisofon photographed the carving of Mount Rushmore. He documented Jawaharlal Nehru's funeral in 1964. He took photographs of celebrities participating in a rally at the Hollywood Bowl and in the 1963 Freedom March in Washington.
Elisofon was well known for his geographical photo essays, and he traveled all over the world documenting places and people of other cultures. Among the locations he photographed were the South Sea Islands, the West Indies, the Atlantic coastlines of the United States and Europe, Indonesia, Japan, Egypt, India, Africa, Hawaii, Canada, South America, Israel, Mexico, and numerous areas around the United States. For "Great Sights of the World" and "Exotic Bazaars" stories he traveled to major cities around the world, photographing their best-known sights.
Elisofon also was skilled at photographing food. He shot European restaurants for Life and for Canadian Club advertisements, foods for barbecuing, teenage cooking, cooking turtles, Christmas foods, Indian cooking, Chinese cooking, etc. For Time-Life Books' Foods of the World series he photographed in Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Russia, Poland, India, and Pakistan.
Among the wide variety of cultural and human interest stories were assignments on the Olneyville Boys Club, a Chinese mural in Kansas City, Seminole Indians, the New York Rangers ice hockey team, the British royal family's visits to South Africa (1947) and the Fiji Islands (1953), the 1939 and 1963 World's Fairs in New York, fireplace styles, kitchens, fashions, cars, and toys.
Elisofon documented a number of social issues; among these were the lack of playgrounds in Manhattan, a poverty-stricken rural Alabama family, the Cotton Stamp plan in Memphis, relief efforts in Ohio, and the Westchester Health Department. In 1939 he took photographs of the rural poor who had been the subjects of the Federal Writers Project book These Are Our Lives.
Among Elisofon's advertising photographs are those for Canadian Club; for Tydol Flying A Gasoline, featuring early photographs of American Airlines; and for Soligor Lens, using the fashion model Ultra Violet.
Elisofon contributed photographs for many books, including the Time-Life Foods of the World cookbook series, a Crowell-Collier series of children's books about children of other countries, and Joseph Campbell's edition of Heinrich Zimmer's The Art of Indian Asia.
The materials in this series are arranged in chronological order by the dates on which photographs were taken, rather than by publication dates, since there were sometimes long periods of time until publication, and some stories were never published. As a result, Life magazine stories are roughly in order by their set, or story, number. Due to varying preservation storage requirements, photographs and paper materials are filed in one set of boxes, while negatives and transparencies are housed in separate sets of boxes. Elisofon's logbooks are housed at the end of the series.
Elisofon's and his daughter Elin's labels have been transcribed and are noted in the folder list by single quotation marks; cataloger-supplied information is in brackets. Labels were transcribed from glassine negative envelopes, and those envelopes with writing or notes were retained and filed behind their associated negatives. Elisofon's roll numbers are letter-coded; an R before the roll number indicates it was taken with his Rolleiflex camera (120mm film); C, with his Contax camera (35mm); K, with Kodachrome 35mm slide film; and P, with his filmpack camera. An "X" on a particular frame or with an exposure number probably indicates that the exposure was printed.
Original assignment titles, published titles, and other publication information for stories are provided in the folder list when known. Prints and negatives are black and white unless noted as color. Elisofon's prints sometimes vary from standard sizes by millimeters. The approximate sizes and, when there are more than one, the number of photographic images are provided. Life magazine's set, or story, numbers, are indicated where they exist; stories shot for personal reasons, for freelance purposes, or for other publications, do not have set numbers. It is probable that set numbers preceded by "LB" indicate Time-Life Books assignments. A complete list of all of Elisofon's Life set numbers is housed at the end of the series.
Non-photographic materials in this series include tear sheets of published stories, whole issues of periodicals, photo captions, correspondence, notes by Elisofon or his daughter, background research material, such as reports or scripts by Life story researchers, maps, and photocopies of prints. Captions for prints are descriptive lists of the photographs taken and sometimes are in narrative form. Photocopy and original tear sheets are not differentiated in the folder list; however, photocopies of prints are indicated as such.
Series II. Film and Television Projects, 1953-1973, 1986 (4.5 boxes)
Elisofon's film and television projects, or those for which he served in a technical capacity, are represented by correspondence, agreements, notes, schedules, and similar material, and are arranged in chronological order. Elisofon directed the prologue of the film Khartoum, and storyboard drawings, scripts, and correspondence relating to that work are present in this series; in addition, Elisofon photographed the making of the film, so that photographs of the film's production are located in his photography files (Series I). Elisofon also directed a portion of Man Builds: Ancient Egypt, a film sponsored by the American Institute of Architects for National Educational Television; correspondence, Elisofon's itinerary, shooting sequences, and an award are present. Materials relating to the ABC television documentary Africa include prints and slides, agreements, correspondence, an itinerary, press releases, and clippings. The television documentary series Black African Heritage, which Elisofon wrote, produced, and directed, is well represented in the collection by schedules, agreements, correspondence, treatments, notes, research material, production budgets, receipts, camera and sound reports, cutting notes, timing reports, releases, royalty statements, and clippings.
Notable among materials for projects that were never completed is a draft of James Agee's screenplay Noa Noa, about the life of Gaugin.
Elisofon served as a special color consultant as well as a still photographer on the films Moulin Rouge, Bell, Book and Candle, and The Greatest Story Ever Told, and his photographs and notes from those projects are located in his photography files (Series I), along with other films for which he worked as a still photographer.
Series III. Writings and Lectures, 1938-1973 (7.5 boxes)
Material relating to Elisofon's numerous lectures, articles, and books is divided into two subseries, both arranged chronologically. First, Elisofon's articles and books are primarily represented by notes, drafts, correspondence, agreements, royalty statements, and reviews. Elisofon's book Color Photography is further represented by proofs, advertisements and promotional information, and an interview transcript. Among papers regarding The Nile are a manuscript, layouts, and radio and television schedule. Original diary entries, lists and proofs of illustrations and captions, and advertisements for Java Diary are also present. Elisofon kept a similar diary in India, Ceylon, and Taiwan; drafts of the unpublished manuscript are present. Manuscripts for Elisofon's book of photographs of the Indian temple Konarak, titled Erotic Spirituality, include correspondence with Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. about the possibility of publishing the book (it was ultimately published by Macmillan), as well as captions, drafts, and jacket text. His contributions to a children's book series on children of other countries include those for Poland, Puerto Rico, and Zaire; unique items include layouts, jacket text, and model releases.
Books by other authors for which Elisofon provided photographs are located in the photography files (Series I).
The second subseries, relating to Elisofon's lectures and presentations to universities, clubs, and museums, includes typescripts, clippings, correspondence, newsletters, advertisements, press releases, invitations, and programs. Among noteworthy lectures are Elisofon's early "History of Photography" lecture, with glass slides he used in his presentation; his acceptance speech for an award given to Margaret Bourke-White; and "Photography and Art," the 1950 Trowbridge lecture at Yale University. Elisofon's lectures accompanying showings of his documentary Black African Heritage and his presentations on behalf of Life for its advertising clients are also documented in the series.
Series IV. Artwork, 1935-1969, undated (2.5 boxes)
Elisofon was a noted painter, working primarily in watercolor, and his early sketchbooks are present in the collection. In addition, photographs of some of Elisofon's artwork are present, as are two slides of Elisofon's art studio; these images are arranged chronologically following the sketchbooks. Information regarding sales and donations of paintings may be found at the end of the series. Additional material about Elisofon's art is located with items relating to exhibitions (Series V).
Series V. Exhibitions, 1936-1986 (2 boxes)
Elisofon's photographs, paintings, and collection of primitive art were exhibited throughout the United States and in other countries; those exhibitions are represented chronologically by photographs and negatives, schedules, lists of items exhibited, agreements, correspondence, clippings, press releases, and catalogs.
Of Elisofon's numerous exhibitions, several are particularly noteworthy due to the extent or kind of material found about them in the collection. "Tunisian Triumph," an exhibition of Elisofon's photographs taken in North Africa during World War II, toured to eleven museums, including the Museum of Modern Art. Negatives and an installation list are among other items from that show. "An American's View of the Nordic Countries" was an exhibition of both photographs and watercolors that was shown in Stockholm, Gothenberg, and Malmö. Its exhibit catalog and a list of watercolors are present in the collection. Contact sheets, correspondence, and text by Ralph Pomeroy provide information on an exhibition of photographs and sculpture titled "Understanding African Sculpture" organized by Elisofon at the Art Institute of Chicago; that exhibition also circulated to other institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art. A touring photo exhibition on "Nine Indian Temples" is represented by prints, loan agreements, and captions by Joseph Campbell. Elisofon curated an exhibition of "Masterpieces of Primitive Art," displaying artifacts from Harvard's Peabody Museum and other collections, and his correspondence, a typescript of the catalog text, the catalog, and a transcript of the television program "Invitation to Art" represent that project. "African Art of the Dogon: The Lester Wunderman Collection," which used film, slides, and photographs by Elisofon, was sponsored by the International Exhibitions Foundation and toured to numerous cities throughout the United States. It is well represented by correspondence, agreements, invoices, a list of photographs, and catalog text, among other items. Photographs of "The Nile" were exhibited at numerous museums from 1964 to 1967 under the sponsorship of the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Services. Elisofon's watercolor paintings were particularly well-received in Japan, where they were shown at the Gekkoso Gallery and used as designs for postal cards and scarves. "Tribute to Africa" was a posthumous exhibition at the Museum of African Art in 1974, and it featured Elisofon's photographs, slides, films, and sculpture.
Series VI. Private Art Collection, 1939-1969, undated (1 box)
Elisofon collected artwork and sculpture wherever he traveled, and he developed a significant collection of primitive art. He donated many pieces to museums, particularly Harvard University's Peabody Museum and the Peabody Museum of Salem, and he also sold some items. Files regarding donations and sales include images of the art objects, receipts, lists of objects, appraisals, and correspondence. Elisofon's photographs of objects from his personal collection form the bulk of the series.
Series VII. Food Files, 1943-1969, undated (.5 box)
Elisofon's culinary interest is primarily represented by recipes he created or gathered, and by menus he collected. Material regarding Elisofon's 1948 cookbook, Food Is a Four-Letter Word, is located in Series III, along with other books by Elisofon.
Series VIII. Correspondence, 1930-1973, undated (6 boxes)
Most of Elisofon's correspondence is filed chronologically as "General Correspondence." Other correspondence files include his memos containing story suggestions; requests and invoices for copies of Elisofon's photographs, primarily for use in publications; correspondence regarding reprints or sales by Life of Elisofon photographs; and correspondence and lists regarding books sent to friends and relatives as gifts. Additional correspondence concerning Elisofon's photography assignments has been maintained in its original location within the photography files (Series I). All correspondents in the archive are listed in the Index of Correspondents.
Series IX. About Elisofon, 1930-1985, undated (5.5 boxes, 5 scrapbooks)
Material about Elisofon is divided into five subseries. Interviews, articles, and essays are represented in the first subseries by photographs, correspondence, transcripts of radio and television interviews, clippings, proofs, and obituaries. The second subseries consists of five scrapbooks containing tear sheets, clippings, and memorabilia, primarily dating from 1937 to 1941. A scrapbook from Elisofon's work on the film Khartoum is also present. The third subseries contains Elisofon's personal files; among these are files of addresses, resumes, biographical information for Life, medical papers, financial and other documents, Life staff policies and contracts, equipment lists, records of awards and appointments, and files on the Peabody Museum and the Museum of African Art, as well as organizations of which Elisofon was a member. The fourth subseries comprises personal photographs, primarily of Elisofon; these are arranged by decade and also include negatives and transparencies. Photographs of Elisofon's apartments, showing his personal art collection, are also present. The final subseries consists of periodicals collected by Elisofon that did not contain his work. The majority of magazines are issues of Life dating from 1936 to 1972, but also present are copies of American Photographer, Friday, and Signal, among other titles. These are arranged alphabetically by title and chronologically within each title.
Series X. Elin Elisofon, 1976-1988, undated (3.5 boxes)
Elin Elisofon's work on her father's archive is reflected in the final series of the collection. Her unpublished biography of Eliot Elisofon is represented by proposals, synopses, research, and drafts; access to this material requires permission from Elin Elisofon. Files from her work on an exhibition of her father's work are also present. Her files about her father's papers include exploration of potential ways to administer the collection, with research on picture agencies and compact discs, as well as correspondence about copyright and requests for use of photographs. Elin Elisofon's fundraising efforts in support of the biography and the exhibition are documented as well.

Separated Material

The following film recordings have been removed from the archive and are cataloged separately with the Center's film collection:
16mm film:
  • 'Reel 2-Murchison Falls from below, and Nile animals,' one reel, undated
  • 'Color Clips - South Seas,' two reels, undated
  • 'COA 11445, Time--Elisofon, Reel 2, Orig. Kodak,' one reel, 20 Jan. 1960
  • 'Elisofon Material - Out Takes and Allan Grant Exposure Test, Dave Cazalet, 333 W. 52nd St.,' one reel, undated
  • 'Truman Announcement, Sept. 1955,' (actually South Seas, possibly Varua voyage), two reels, undated (1956), labeled 'Time & Life Mag.- Orig.-R-1, Edge#-A0000 to A0736,' and 'Time & Life Mag.- Orig.-R-2, Edge#-A0740 to 41422.' Each is additionally labelled '7 Rolls, Orig. Koda, W-8969'
  • 'Lester Cowan, Room 444, Chrysler Bldg,' (Unidentified boat/water scenes, possibly South Seas Varua voyage), one reel, (1956)
  • 'Great Adv.,' (possibly South Seas, Varua voyage), one reel spliced in two, (1956)
  • 'Black African Heritage,' five reels, labeled 'No. 1, OK,''No. 2, OK,''Niger-Part II,''No. 3, Show III,''Four,' (1970-71)
  • '"African Sculpture: Glorious Past," 26 April 1970, "African Sculpture: Dynamic Expression," 3 May 1970,' one videocassette, undated
The following books and periodicals have been removed from the archive and are cataloged separately with the Center's book collection:
Books and other publications:
  • 1956 Color Photography Annual. New York: Ziff-Davis Publishing Co., 1956. (with Elisofon's name engraved on cover)
  • Aksharajna (G. R. Subbaramayya). Sri Ramana: The Sage of Arunagiri. Tiruvannamalai: Sri Ramanasramam, 1948
  • Carroll, John S. Photography with the Graflex "22". New York: Morgan & Lester, 1954. Inscribed to Elisofon by author: "To my very dear friend and colleague, Eliot Elisofon, who remembers when………John S. Carroll, June 1954."
  • Collier, Richard, editor. World War II: The War in the Desert. Alexandria, Va.: Time-Life Books, Inc., 1967.
  • Commence Shooting! A Navy Manual on War Photography, 1942.
  • Deschin, Jacob. 35 mm Photography. San Francisco: Camera Craft Publishing Company, 1953.
  • Elisofon, Eliot. A Week in Agata's World: Poland. London: Crowell-Collier Press, 1970.
  • ------. Color Photography. New York: The Viking Press, 1961. (with signatures of numerous Life employees)
  • ------. The Nile. New York: The Viking Press, 1964.
  • ------. The Sculpture of Africa. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1958.
  • ------. Tribute to Africa: The Photography and the Collection of Eliot Elisofon. Washington, D.C.: Museum of African Art, 1974.
  • ------. Zaire: A Week in Joseph's World. New York: Crowell-Collier Press, 1973.
  • Elson, Robert T. The World of Time Inc.: The Intimate History of a Publishing Enterprise, Volume Two: 1941-1960. New York: Atheneum, 1973.
  • Halsman, Philippe. The Frenchman. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1949. Inscribed to Elisofon: "For Eliot, a great photographer, with friendship and may this book give him added strength to yield to select temptations. Philippe Halsman, Xmas 1949."
  • Hedgecoe, John. John Hedgecoe's Advanced Photography. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982.
  • Henry R. Luce, April 3, 1898-February 28, 1967. Time, Inc., 1967.
  • Hepburn, Katharine. The Making of "The African Queen." New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1987.
  • Horizon. vol. vii, no. 1, Winter, 1966. New York: American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc.
  • Horizon. vol. vii, no. 3, Summer, 1966. New York: American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc.
  • Kellsey, Lewis L. Corrective Photography. Chicago: L. F. Deardorff & Sons, 1947. (Elisofon's name printed on cover)
  • Life Goes to War: A Picture History of World War II. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1977.
  • Maloney, T. J., editor. U. S. Camera Annual 1943. New York: Duell, Sloan & Pearce, 1942.
  • Maloney, Tom, editor. U. S. Camera Annual 1950 International Edition. New York: U. S. Camera Publishing Co., 1949.
  • ------.U. S. Camera Annual 1952. New York: U. S. Camera Publishing Co., 1951.
  • Memorable Life Photographs. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1951.
  • Men and Ships: A Pictorial of the Maritime Industry, Maritime Strike Pictorial, 1936-1937.
  • Rao, M. Anant Narayan. Arunachala, or A Short History of Hill and Temple in Tiruvannamalai, privately published, 1947.
  • The Promise and Purpose of Life, Time Inc., 1961.
  • Whiting, John R. Photography is a Language. Chicago: Ziff-Davis Publishing Co., 1946. Inscribed to Elisofon by author: "For Eliot who knows the culinary language too!--John R. Whiting '47."
  • Who's Who in Foreign Correspondence 1956-1957, New York: Overseas Press Club of America, Inc
The following items have been removed from the archive and are cataloged separately with the Center's Personal Effects files:
  • One green metal negative file drawer (was one of seven)
  • One cardboard box labeled 'Contax '39 Rolls' 'Assorted' ' and containing 47 labeled film cannisters
  • One metal 35mm humidor file chest containing 56 labeled cannisters, with cardboard list of titles

Container List