A History of Women Photographers by Naomi RosenblumA History of Women Photographers by Naomi Rosenblum

A History of Women Photographers

byNaomi Rosenblum

Paperback | December 30, 2014

Pricing and Purchase Info

$56.66 online 
$58.99 list price
Earn 283 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


The definitive text on women in photography, now in an affordable paperback edition.

Women have had a special relationship with the camera since the advent of photographic technology in the mid-nineteenth century. Photographers celebrated women as their subjects, from intimate family portraits and fashion spreads to artistic photography and nude studies, including Man Ray’s Violon d’Ingres. Lesser known#151; and lesser studied#151; is the history of women photographers, who continue to make invaluable contributions to this flourishing art form.

Featuring more than 300 illustrations,A History of Women Photographersis the only comprehensive survey of women photographers from the age of the daguerreotype to the present day. In this edition, author Naomi Rosenblum expands the book’s coverage to include additional photographers and fourteen new images. The text and the appendix of photographer biographies have been revised throughout, and Rosenblum also provides a new afterword, in which she evaluates the influence of rapidly changing digital technology on the field of photography and the standing of women photographers in the twenty-first century.
Naomi Rosenblum, an independent curator and scholar who has written many articles and lectured extensively on a wide range of subjects in photography, first publishedA World History of Photography(now in its fourth edition) in 1984. This is the latest revision of her 1994 book, the award-winningA History of Women Photographers. She liv...
Title:A History of Women PhotographersFormat:PaperbackDimensions:416 pages, 11.5 × 8.75 × 0.68 inPublished:December 30, 2014Publisher:Abbeville Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0789212242

ISBN - 13:9780789212245

Look for similar items by category:


Read from the Book

Excerpt from A History of Women PhotographersChapter 9Photography as Art, 1940—2000“Much of the large future of photography,” Edward Steichen was reported to have remarked, “may be accounted for by women's perceptivity.” Whatever this statement may have meant to its maker, women's role and expressive photography in the last half of the twentieth century certainly was notable. The medium has increasingly been seen both as an instrument for the expression of personal insights and as a means for making aesthetic statements. Practices such as staging a scene to be photographed, multiple printing, hand coloring, and using a variety of techniques (among them pinhole exposures and light graphics) to produce images without either lens or camera have been revived. Photographic abstractions and surreal compositions have appeared with greater frequency as photographers have sought to use their medium in ways related to what was happening in the visual arts in general. To this diversity of photographic means must be added the digital capabilities that have made image manipulation even more attractive because of their ease and seamlessness.Expressive possibilities of the medium were initially acknowledged less eagerly in Europe, where, according to one British observer, photography had ceased in the early 1950s to function as an “imaginative, persuasive and stylistic tool.” An art market for photographs, which enabled photographers of both genders to flourish in the United States, did not materialize in Europe until fairly recent times. This factor prevented women's development as self-expressive artists from being quite as rapid or as widespread there as in the United States, but by the mid–1990s, as photographs became commodities on the art markets in France and England, and to a lesser extent, Germany and Italy, similar concepts and strategies about creating photographic art characterized women's work everywhere.Women’s StatusThe extraordinary growth in the number of women involved with photography in the United States after World War II was partly due to changes in the way photography was included at institutions of higher learning. Because of the so–called G.I. Bill, through which the federal government underwrote access to advanced education for personnel returning from World War II, hiherto reluctant university art departments began to offer courses in photography as a way to attract applicants. Thus, women—who traditionally had constituted a significant proportion of art students—now were exposed to this means of visual expression in the context of art rather than of commercial or scientific applications. This is not to suggest that course in photography had not been given in colleges or that women had not studied it before, for some women’s schools and vocational institutions had included photography among their art offerings over the years. Francesca Bastwick taught “pictorial photography” at the New London (Conn.) College for Women in 1915; Carlotta M. Corpron started teaching the subject in the late 1930s at Texas State College for Women in Denton. On the whole, however, it was not until the 1950s that instruction in the medium was given on a broad scale.Transformations taking place in the time-honored methods of teaching Fine Arts at the college level also help to promote the inclusion of photography as one of those arts. A seminal force in this development was the School of Design in Chicago (established in 1939 and renamed the Institute of Design in 1944). Carrying out the utilitarian ideas promoted by László Moholy-Nagy and the Bauhaus, which made no distinction between the fine and the applied arts, this institution (soon followed by others) replaced traditional art instruction with programs that allowed greater experimentation.As photography classes in college art departments multiplied and more staff was required, female graduates of college art programs went on to teach and to participate in workshops and seminars. Because their training had been in art rather than in journalism or science, they tended to communicate the artistic concepts of the medium to a larger community. However, even though by the late 1980s women constituted almost half of those graduating with advanced degrees in photography, they were only half as likely as male colleagues to find tenure–track positions and much more likely to hold adjunct jobs with lower incomes and fewer benefits. When holding permanent teaching jobs, women often received lower salaries, on average, than men. Ironically, as the economic status of women faculty members began to approach that of their male colleagues, colleges and universities were turning more and more to adjunct (rather than tenured) positions for both men and women.Even the Institute of Design, notwithstanding its promotion of avant–garde concepts and its emphasis on creativity, was mired in traditional attitudes toward women. For some forty years the school with staffed entirely by male photography teachers—thirty–three in all; in 1977 one woman, Patricia Carroll, was hired. The number of women students enrolled before the mid-1960s is difficult to determine, but of the 137 who graduated in photography between 1952 and 1981, only 26 were women. What is more, the prevailing patriarchal attitudes and the students’ ambition to succeed made the idea of exposing sexist attitudes on the part of the faculty difficult even to contemplate.From the 1940s to the 1960s the entire institutional apparatus a photography was male dominated. Not one woman was on the faculty of the highly promoted Famous Photographers Correspondence School (based in Westport, Connecticut), and relatively few were associated with the major photographic journals. Those few included Edna Bennett (U.S. Camera), Jacquelyn Judge (Minicam-Modern Photography), and Julia Scully (U.S. Camera and Camera 35). Women did figure in initiating the few commercial galleries for photography that existed at the time. In New York, Helen Gee opened the Limelight Gallery as part of a café; Ann DeCarava was involved briefly with her husband, Roy, in the Photographers Gallery; and Maggie Sherwood created the Floating Gallery on a barge moored along the waterfront. As curator of the picture collection of the New York Public Library from 1924 to 1968, Romana Javitz acquired significant works by serious photographers such as Bernice Abbott and Lewis Hine. Grace M. Mayer contributed greatly to organizing the photographic collections at both the Museum of the City of New York and the Museum of Modern Art. On the West Coast, Helen Johnston was famed for founding the Focus Gallery in San Francisco.Changes in this situation accelerated throughout the 1980s and ‘90s, as women attained curatorships of photography collections and departments in major museums (for example, at George Eastman House, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Library of Congress, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery, the National Gallery of Canada, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art). Many had earned their advanced degrees in art history or American studies, both disciplines having embraced photography. The greatly increased number of private galleries dealing in photographs also presented opportunities for more women to enter the field. European women, too, have become involved in the institutional aspects, with major photographic collections in London, Paris, Madrid, and Essen, Germany now under their direction; they also have become involved in private ventures to promote photography.

Table of Contents


Why Women?

Chapter 1
At the Beginning, 1839–90

Chapter 2
Not Just for Fun: Women Become Professionals, 1880–1915

Chapter 3
Portraiture, 1890–1915

Chapter 4
Art and Recreation: Pleasures of the Amateur, 1890–1920

Chapter 5
Photography Between the Wars: Europe, 1920–40

Chapter 6
Photography Between the Wars: North America, 1920–40

Chapter 7
Photography as Information, 1940–2000

Chapter 8
The Feminist Vision, 1970–95

Chapter 9
Photography as Art, 1940–2000


Jain Kelly

Selected Bibliography
Peter E. Palmquist


Editorial Reviews

"Landmark volume... a seminal reference work... brings to light a largely unknown world in vivid originality and broad archival conception." —Publishers Weekly

“The definitive book on the subject.” —The Wall Street Journal

"There are surprises in every chapter of this well-written history, and the supporting material... is equally valuable." — Chicago Tribune

"A ‘must’ acquisition.” —Choice Magazine