Daily Worker Negatives Potential Funders

The list of organizations that have received grants from the **New York Department of Cultural Affairs** is impressive, and suggests that the agency’s funding stream is pretty democratic. Looking through the web site of the International Center of Photography (http://www.icp.org) for leads, I discovered that the Department recently funded ICP’s New York-themed Weegee exhibit, Murder Is My Business. During the processing of the Daily Worker Negatives and Photographs Collection, it was discovered that Weegee actually took some pictures for the Daily Worker, so there is a connection there.

Many of ICP’s recent exhibits, and its institutional origins, also come out of the same stream as the materials collected and documented at Tamiment, particularly the Spanish Civil War and CP-related stuff. ICP was founded by Cornell Capa, the brother of Robert Capa, the famous WWII photojournalist, and recently put on an exhibit of the contents of a lost suitcase of negatives from the Spanish Civil War taken by him and other photographers. Tamiment also has collections of photographs by photographers with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. In addition, much of the social documentary photography which is celebrated at ICP, and which fuels its contemporary programming and mission, came from individuals who were in some way linked to the people, movements and organizations documented in Tamiment’s collections.

All this is to say that the Daily Worker negatives from the 1930s should not be marginalized, as photographs and art, or as documents of New York City life, just because they came out of the Communist Party, especially considering the 1930s was a period during which the Party was very much in the mainstream and working for things like social security, jobs and racial equality.

It would be nice to get support from the Department of Cultural Affairs to maybe present an exhibit at the Grey Art Gallery, based on the Daily Worker negatives that could go hand in hand with the Digital Humanities/digitization project. This could give the work the same feeling and framework, and legitimacy, as ICP’s Weegee and Mexican Suitcase exhibits, and also call attention to the value of these images in depicting life in New York at this important time, from a perspective that is essentially a blend of photojournalism and social documentary, used to promote the Party's social and economic justice agenda during the Great Depression and WWII.

The **Leon Levy Foundation** has assets of close to $500 million, has a New York focus, and has an entire program devoted to funding archives and cataloguing projects at arts and humanities organizations, "with the ultimate goal of making them more available to historians, writers, film-makers, and other scholars." They have funded projects at the New York Philharmonic, the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, Poet's House, the Morgan Library and Museum, and the Woodrow Wilson Center's Cold War International History Project.

The Foundation Center entry says founder and mutual fund magnate Leon Levy had, “a passion for expanding knowledge and believed in the power of ideas and a just and equitable society,” and refers to his, “broad humanism.” One of the foundation’s areas of giving is Arts and Humanities, and it provides unrestricted support to, “important organizations in the visual, performing and literary arts and humanities mainly … located in New York City.”

It also gives money, “to foster scholarship and research that leads to an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural understanding of the civilizations of the ancient world.” I think this scholarly focus on the ancient world is telling in that it speaks to the foundation’s commitment to knowledge and scholarship across boundaries. The foundation also funds human rights and social justice organizations and programs, as well as Jewish culture.

I think playing all of these angles, in addition to applying to the archives program, could work in the favor of this project. The recent Radical Camera exhibit on the CP-linked Photo League, which I included in the environmental scan, was at the Jewish Museum, which the Levy Foundation funds. I had initially thought this was an unusual choice—perhaps ICP would have been more obvious—but many of the photographers were Jewish and the CP had a strong appeal to Jewish immigrants, and went I went to see the exhibit it made a lot of sense.

In this same way, I could see an exhibit of the Daily Worker negatives at the Museum of the City of New York, or even the Jewish Museum, and maybe a partnership between Tamiment and these institutions.

I would choose to apply to the David Berg Foundation, Inc. for similar reasons as the Levy Foundation, though it is significantly smaller. The Foundation gives to organizations like Human Rights Watch and the Center for Jewish History, as well as the New York Public Library, and ICP. It’s President is Director of the Center for Jewish History, and its Vice President is a trustee of the Soros Charitable Foundation, so maybe the foundation’s could see beyond the more narrowly political qualities of the material and understand its historical and artistic/visual significance.

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