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Forward Association, New York

[“The Younger Generation of Czechoslovakia’s Jewish Population,” The Forward, Sunday Art Section featuring six photographs by Roman Vishniac taken in Czechoslovakia]

Date September 25, 1938
Dimensions Paper (open): 17 x 24 1/2 in. (43.2 x 62.2 cm)
Print medium Photo-Gravure

This 1938 rotogravure is the first comprehensive presentation of Vishniac’s work in the American press, published at the time that he was photographing in eastern Europe. The Forward, a New York–based Yiddish newspaper, was founded in 1897, the year that Vishniac was born; by 1938, it had a circulation of nearly 200,000 and was a leading American metropolitan daily. Rotogravure printing, which had become widespread in the early 1900s, permitted the quality reproduction of photographs on a mass scale on inexpensive newsprint; The Forward’s Sunday Art Section was one of many popular Sunday “picture sections” in newspapers of the era. In this feature, Vishniac’s photographs of religious Jewish boys with weary, serious expressions were designed to induce sympathy and nostalgia in readers, most of whom were recent immigrants themselves with family that had remained in eastern Europe. Although the photographs had been commissioned by the European headquarters of the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), it was the American viewer who was more likely in a position to make donations and contribute to relief and aid efforts, the original purpose of the assignment. The pathos of Vishniac’s portraits connected readers to a world they had left behind, sentimentalizing the “old country” while at the same time validating the decision to immigrate to America to establish new lives.


© Mara Vishniac Kohn

Credit line

Collection Forward Association, New York

Feedback Accession No. FA.2012.1