Library of Congress Places William P. Gottlieb's Iconic Jazz Images on Flickr
WI Staff Report | 8/11/2010, 12:47 p.m.
Copyright Restrictions on Images Lifted Earlier This Year
Celebrated jazz artists come to life in photographs by William P. Gottlieb. His images document the jazz scene in New York City and Washington, D.C., from 1938 to 1948, a time recognized by many as the "Golden Age of Jazz".
Gottlieb was both a notable jazz journalist and a self-taught photographer who captured the personalities of jazz musicians and told their stories with his camera and typewriter. His portraits depict such prominent musicians and personalities as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Thelonious Monk, Ella Fitzgerald, and many more.
The first 219 images in this set show the photos published alongside the photographer's personal recollections in his book, The Golden Age of Jazz. We'll add more photos each month until all 1,600 are in Flickr, with thanks to our Music Division for contributing such dramatic images.
In the late 1930s, a Golden Age of Jazz started to emerge, as hard economic times began to fade. Airwaves were pulsating with jazz and record sales were rising. Legends like Billie Holliday, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, and many more were on the scene - and so was William Gottlieb.
Equipped with a bulky Speed Graphic camera, Gottlieb, a young columnist for the Washington Post and later a writer for Down Beat magazine, photographed jazz musicians and performers, capturing classic images that are well known today. Gottlieb photographed the jazz greats from 1938 to 1948.
A set of these iconic images, part of the Library of Congress William P. Gottlieb Collection, has been uploaded to Flickr, and the Music Division at the Library of Congress will continue to add more photos each month, until all 1,600 from the collection are included.
The photographs in the Library's William P. Gottlieb Collection entered into the public domain on Feb. 16, 2010, in accordance with Gottlieb's wishes. Gottlieb died at age 89 in 2006. Although copyright restrictions are lifted, rights of privacy and publicity may apply. Users of photographs in the Gottlieb collection are responsible for clearing any privacy or publicity rights associated with the use of the images.
Born in 1917, Gottlieb began working for the Washington Post in 1938 in his last year at Lehigh University. For the Post, he wrote and illustrated a weekly jazz column, perhaps the first in a major newspaper. When the Post decided it couldn't afford to pay a photographer to shoot photos for the column, Gottlieb bought his own press camera and began taking pictures.
Gottlieb was drafted into the Army Air Corps in 1943. After World War II, he worked as a writer-photographer for Down Beat magazine. His work also appeared frequently in Record Changer, the Saturday Review and Collier's.
After Gottlieb left Down Beat, he was offered a job at Curriculum Films, an educational filmstrip company. He then founded his own filmstrip company, which was later bought by McGraw-Hill. Many of his filmstrips won awards from the Canadian Film Board and the Educational Film Librarians Association.
From the 1950s to the 1970s, the filmstrip, now obsolete, was a common form of still-image instructional multimedia technology, a precursor to PowerPoint presentations.