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Ira Nowinski photograph collection, ca. 1965-2004



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Nowinski, Ira.
Earliest possible date:
Latest possible date:
  • Manuscript/Archive
  • 11 linear feet (ca. 15,000 photographs and negatives)
Collection is open for research; please contact the Public Service Division of the Department of Special Collections at least 24 hours in advance of intended use.
The collection consists of six subdivisions. The first is negatives and prints from Nowinski's Holocaust collection totalling some 6,250 images and 1,548 prints, and includes the following projects: "In fitting memory; the art and politics of Holocaust memorials, " the Segal Holocaust Memorial, the 50th anniversary Warsaw ghetto uprising, and the opening of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. The second subdivision is Judaica photographs, totalling some 8,905 images. This segment includes three projects: the Karaite Jews, Israel, and the Soviet Jews of San Francisco. The third segment (box 31, accession # 2003-256), consists of 33 11x14 black and white prints from the book CAFE SOCIETY : PHOTOGRAPHS AND POETRY FROM SAN FRANCISCO'S NORTH BEACH, 1978. The fourth segment, accession 2004-108, consists of 26 prints of Jewish grave markers in the Gold Country of California, 1983, as well as one print of Roman Vishniac, 1984. The fifth segment (accession 2004-171) includes 7 8x10 prints of Roman Vishniac as well as 22 negatives and a contact sheet of YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, New York, 1993. The sixth segment (accession 2004-172) includes 34 negatives and their contact sheet of Vladka Meed, New York, [1993?]
Purchased, 2001, accession 2001-316; 2003, accession 2003-256; and 2004, accession 2004-108 and 2004-171. Gift of Ira Nowinski, 2004, accession 2004-172.
Ira Nowinski is an American photographer of Polish and Hungarian Jewish descent. Born ca. 1942 and raised in New York, he was the first person in his family born in the United States. At the age of 42, he was prodded by opera singer Regina Resnick to do a photo essay around the Jewish milieu. He had previously done photo essays of the North Beach, San Francisco, area, of the evacuation of elderly citizens from hotels in the South of Market area of San Francisco, and of the Southeast Asian Community in the same city. In addition, he had been the staff photographer of the San Francisco Opera since 1978. Working first with Resnick and then with Seymour Fromer of the Judah L. Magnes Museum, Rhonda Abrams of the Anti-Defamation League, Anita Friedman of Jewish Family & Children's Services, and the Northern California Board of Rabbis, Nowinski began documenting the Jewish experience in the San Francisco Bay Area. One of his first projects was to document Soviet Jews who had immigrated during the 1970's and 1980's. He also photographed the Karaite Jewish Community in Foster City. The Karaites were a Jewish community that had lived for nearly 500 years in Egypt. The Arab-Israeli war resulted in the expulsion of the Jews from Egypt at the conclusion of that conflict. Many subsequently immigrated first to Israel and then to Northern California. Nowinski retraced their migration route in reverse, first photographing Karaites in Foster City, California, then in Israel, and finally in Egypt. Nowinski and Sybil Milton of the U.S. Holocaust Museum did a joint work on the Holocaust Memorials throughout Europe, Israel, and in the United States. This work, entitled "In fitting memory : the art and politics of Holocaust memorials" combined text provided by Milton with Nowinski's photographic essay of the monuments documenting the millions of Jews who lost their lives under the Nazi regime.
Included Work:
In fitting memory; the art of politics of Holocaust memorials. Cafe society : photographs and poetry from San Francisco's North Beach

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