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Archives & Special Collections (ASC)

Roy Stryker (1893-1975) Papers: Home


1924-1972, 30 linear ft.


Roy Emerson Stryker supervised the great photographic documentary efforts of the 20th century. As early as 1925, while working as an instructor at Columbia University with Rexford Guy Tugwell (1891-1979), Stryker conceived the idea of a photographic project to document life in the entire United States. He first documented rural America between 1935 and 1942, by heading the photography projects and directing the work of the gifted photographers associated with the Resettlement Administration and then the Farm Security Administration. He then spent a year at the Office of War Information before accepting a position with the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey. From 1943 until 1950 he again supervised the nation's most talented photographers to develop a picture library documenting the work, employees and communities of Standard Oil of New Jersey throughout the United States and abroad. The resulting eighty thousand documentary photographs are a landmark in the history of photography. Stryker later directed additional documentary projects for the City of Pittsburgh, creating the Pittsburgh Library of Photography in 1950, and the Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation from 1952 to 1960.

This archive of the career of Roy Stryker includes his correspondence from 1924 to 1972, fifteen hundred prints from his personal collection of photographs, manuscripts, negatives, tear sheet files, clippings, and shooting scripts. Among Stryker's correspondents are Tugwell, government and corporate officials, and photographers including Esther Bubley, John Collier Jr., Harold Corsini, Jack Delano, Walker Evans, Lewis Hine, Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee, Edwin and Louise Rosskam, John Vachon, and Marion Post Wolcott. The collection is also available in a microfilm edition.

Related Resources


Roy Emerson Stryker, ca. 1945. Photograph by Gordon Parks.