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Standard Oil (New Jersey) Collection [SONJ]

 Unprocessed Material
Identifier: 1981_001-PA

Content Description

Approximately 500,000 prints and negatives from a project directed by Roy E. Stryker to document the operations and benefits of oil in America and abroad. Approximately 70,000 negatives; 27,000 bound prints; 2000 color transparencies; 42,000 file prints; 88,000 caption cards; three linear feet manuscript materials, 1943-1969. The Standard Oil photo collection was the second major photo-documentary project directed by Roy E. Stryker. The project's aim was to document the benefits of oil on everyday life in the United States. More than half of the images reflect that focus; other photographs are set at Standard Oil sites throughout the world in more than 100,000 images. The eleven principal photographers accomplished a complete socio-geographical portrait of the times. Their work under Roy Stryker is still recognized as one of the finest documentary projects ever undertaken. The collection photographers included Charlotte Brooks, Esther Bubley, John Collier, Jr., Harold Corsini, Arnold Eagle, Russell Lee, Sol Libsohn, Gordon Parks, Edwin and Louise Rosskam, Charles Rotkin, John Vachon, and Todd Webb. North American coverage includes New England, the Middle Atlantic states, the Southeast, Central U.S., the Southwest, and Canada. European countries covered are Denmark, England, France, Holland, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and Luxembourg. Other coverage includes Aruba, Costa Rica, Cuba, Bermuda, Columbia, Guatemala, Honduras, Java (Indonesia), New Guinea, Peru, Saudi Arabia, and Sumatra. Subjects include United States social conditions between 1943 and 1952, oil production and distribution, industrial workers, homes and families, religious life, recreation, highways, river transportation, bus travel in the United States, and American automobile culture. The collection includes 80,000 black and white and color negatives, 120,000 silver gelatin prints, 2,000 color transparencies, index cards, shooting scripts, correspondence files, and film strips. Published works based in whole or in part on the collection include Steven Plattner's Roy Stryker, U.S.A., 1943-1950: The Standard Oil (New Jersey) Photography Project (1983), Nicholas Lemann's Out of the Forties (1983), Ulrich Keller's The Highway as Habitat: A Roy Stryker Documentation (1986), and Daniel Okrent's The Way We Were: New England Then and Now (1989). Additional documentation is provided through the gift of Michael Schinas, a former Standard Oil (Exxon) executive, with nine linear feet of correspondence and office files from the Standard Oil photograph project, along with motion picture films and filmstrips produced by the project.

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Restrictions Apply



  • 1943-1969



500000 photographs (25 boxes, 101 drawers, 182 volumes)