Cover image for The photograph and the American dream, 1840-1940
The photograph and the American dream, 1840-1940
White, Stephen, 1938-
Publication Information:
Amsterdam : Van Gogh Museum ; New York : Distribution, Distributed Art Publishers, [2001]

Physical Description:
223 pages : illustrations ; 31 cm
General Note:
Published on the occasion of the exhibition in the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, 28 September 2001-6 January 2002.

"All works reproduced in this book are part of the Stephen White collection II, Los Angeles, California"--Prelim. p.

Includes index.
Added Corporate Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TR6.N392 A477 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

On Order



Perhaps no nation has been so thoroughly shaped by its dreams as has America, and perhaps no other dreams have been captured on camera as often and as diversely as America's. The mythic American Dream has been the subject of photographic documentation since the 1840s, when photographers first began traveling to the New World in search of subjects. From an unknown photographer's picture of newborn George B. Billings Rego, scion of an immigrant Portuguese family and the first child ever born at Boston Long Wharf, to Lewis Hine's wrenching image of a young cotton mill worker in Georgia, to Alfred Stieglitz's awesome New York cityscapes, the photographs collected here reveal the multiple facets of 100 of the most decisive years of American development. Between 1840 and 1940, immigrants became homeowners, untouched lands exploded in superhuman industrial growth, tourists replaced pioneers, and the American metropolis grew taller and shinier--and the camera caught it all.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

White, a collector of early photography, worked with the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam to develop the exhibition cataloged here, and a significant part of his treasure made the show possible. From "American Identities" to the "City Rises," this visual saga is organized well; we see a century of Americans moving across the land, cultivating farms, joining in town building, developing industries, and getting hooked on transportation. Many of the images are so antique that this look at U.S. history becomes a visit to another world, one in which the tools of existence are primitive but sheer will can prevail. The volume lets its content unfold, relying on themes that are broad enough to place what could otherwise be random old photographs into a story told by people who simply looked at the camera while living their lives. The vastness of America, its wild and open mid-section, and the eventual organizing of people, places, and purpose into cities are all depicted very well. Bill Clinton contributes a foreword that he uses to remind us that he became the President from Hope, AR; it might have been nice to have heard from somebody in Mohall, ND, instead. Recommended. David Bryant, New Canaan Lib., CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

The American dream is as intangible and diverse as photography itself. This book sets out to envision what the American dream looked like between 1840 and 1940, encompassing arguably the 100 most formative years of modern American history. Key to this exploration is the role played by photography, not simply by documenting but somehow perpetuating these mythic dreams in the promised land of golden opportunities. The stunning photographs that comprise the exhibition chronicle, as Bill Clinton states, "some of the steps along the way to achieving the American Dream." The traveling exhibition, originating at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and book were selected from the extensive private collection of Stephen White. With a forward by former President Bill Clinton, essays by curators Bluhm and White, and short curatorial statements at the beginning of each of the six chapters that follow. All levels. J. Natal Columbia College Chicago