The Photo Morgue, The New York Times’ legendary photo archive, is so well known that ‘morgue’ has become a synonym for ‘press archive’. However, press photos in archives are far from dead. In this symposium we focus on the importance and use of press photo archives in researching the history of photojournalism.


Our symposium will focus on the new field of research that has emerged over the past ten years thanks to the online publication of press photo archives. This development has turned the original negatives, colour slides and prints, which form the basis of every publication in the 20th century, into accessible research objects. The material aspects of press photographs provide a rich source on the production and dissemination of visual news in the 20th century.


For a long time, the history of press photography revolved around famous photographers, iconic photos or photos of iconic events. In short, the highlights. The digitisation and preservation of extensive collections of analogue press photos, newspapers and magazines slowly make what in online marketing terms is called ‘the long tail’ visible. Aided by advances in online collaboration and machine learning, the great mass of everyday events, photographed by countless anonymous press photographers for a wide range of media, is quickly becoming available for research.


As the focus shifts from the highlights to the whole, we can address new and fundamental questions: how did photojournalism reach and influence the masses in the 20th century? How does this relate to photojournalism today?


In January 2022, a special issue of TMG – Journal for Media History will be published online on the topic of Photojournalism and the Archive: from Analogue to Digital. Several of the contributors will present their papers at the symposium.

In July 2021, Fotografisch Geheugen, the Dutch-language journal of the Nederlands Fotogenootschap, will publish a special issue on press photo archives in the Netherlands.

Together with

This symposium is organised in close consultation with the Dutch National Archives, Nederlands Fotogenootschap, Spaarnestad Photo and TMG Journal for Media History.

We thank

This project is made possible by the Vincent Mentzel Fonds/Rijksmuseum Fonds.

2 July
10.15h - 17.15h CEST


€ 20 € 10 (students)



10:15-17:15 CEST - Friday 2 Juli