The Tumultuous Fifties - Dreishpoon, Douglas; Trachtenberg, Alan - Yale University Press
Art and Architecture

The Tumultuous Fifties

A View from the New York Times Photo Archives

  • Douglas Dreishpoon and Alan Trachtenberg; With Nancy Weinstock, Special Projects Picture Editor, The New York Times; Including a contribution by Luc Sante
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The Cold War, Sputnik, Joseph McCarthy, Fidel Castro, the Rosenbergs, Marilyn Monroe, Rosa Parks, “Father Knows Best,” and “Rebel Without a Cause” are just a few of the events, people, and cultural phenomena that marked the decade of the 1950s. This stunning book—a collection of two hundred large-scale duotone photographs of the 1950s culled from the New York Times photo archives—brings this watershed period to life and examines who and what was important and why.

The photographs, which include both famous and lesser-known images, are arranged thematically, under the headings “America in the World: War Hot and Cold,” “Mechanization in Command,” “Fame and Infamy,” “Growing Up American,” and “American Ways of Life.” The pictures are accompanied by two major essays that look at the role and development of news photography at the New York Times and the relevance of what pictures were taken and which were published by the paper. A third, shorter essay on “the morgue” is a lively description of the photo archive, telling where and how the photos are stored. Together the photographs and essays shed new light on a decade that is still shadowed by misconceptions and stereotypes.

Douglas Dreishpoon is curator at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York. Alan Trachtenberg is the Neil Gray, Jr., Professor of English and American Studies at Yale University. Luc Sante is the author of Low Life and The Factory of Facts.