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Nowinski (Ira) photograph collection
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Scope and Contents
  • Biography
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Preferred Citation
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Related Materials

  • Language of Material: Undetermined
    Contributing Institution: Department of Special Collections and University Archives
    Title: Ira Nowinski photograph collection
    Creator: Nowinski, Ira
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS.PHOTO.0440
    Identifier/Call Number: 1683
    Physical Description: 35 Linear Feet (70 boxes)
    Date (inclusive): circa 1965-2000
    Abstract: Archive of photographer Ira Nowinski (b. 1942)

    Scope and Contents

    The archive of photographer Ira Nowinski (b. 1942) contains prints, negatives, and proofsheets documenting multiple projects. The collection has been divided into four series.
    Series 1. Holocaust Collection includes the following projects: "In fitting memory; the art and politics of Holocaust memorials," the Segal Holocaust Memorial, the 50th anniversary Warsaw ghetto uprising, the opening of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and portraits (in negative and proof form) of Vladka Meed in New York.
    Series 2. Judaica Photographs includes the following projects: the Karaite Jews, Israel, Soviet Jews in San Francisco, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, pioneer Jewish cemeteries of the Gold Rush and portraits of Roman Vishniac and Ruth Weiss.
    Series 3. Asian America Photography Archive consists of prints, contact sheets, negatives, and associated research materials, as well as one hard drive with approximately 25,700 images, related to the following topics: South East Asian Refugees, Tenderloin, San Francisco 1981; Filipino community South of Market, San Francisco 1994; Chinatown San Francisco 1980s; Chinatown San Francisco 2012-2014; Angel Island Immigration Station and Pledge Ceremony 2014; Japanese Americans in San Francisco, Colma, and San Jose 2014-2015; Manzanar Internment camp, Japanese American Museum of San Jose, & Tule Lake Internment Room; Kilauea Japanese Internment Camp, Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii 2014; Hawaii Chinatown, Oahu and Kona 2014-2014.
    Series 4. Contains multiple smaller projects by Nowinski, including work in the Galapagos Islands, Mexico, San Francisco's North Beach (Cafe Society), and portraits of Maurcie Sendak (1 print) and Willie Brown (approximately 55 proofs & negatives).


    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.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Purchases & gifts: 2001, accession 2001-316; 2003, accession 2003-256; 2004, accession 2004-108, 2004-171 and 2004-172; 2015, accession 2015-099; 2016, accessions 2016-108, 2016-203, 2016-128, 2016-198, and 2016-203; 2017, accessions 2017-158 and 2017-160; 2018, accessions 2018-024, 2018-052, and 2018-201; 2019, accession 2019-384 and 2019-429.

    Preferred Citation

    Ira Nowinski photograph collection (Mss Photo 440). Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford Libraries, Stanford, Calif.

    Conditions Governing Use

    While Special Collections is the owner of the physical and digital items, permission to examine collection materials is not an authorization to publish. These materials are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. Any transmission or reproduction beyond that allowed by fair use requires permission from the owners of rights, heir(s) or assigns.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Open for research. Note that material must be requested at least 36 hours in advance of intended use. Born digital material is closed until processed.

    Related Materials

    Stanford holds many inter-related collections of Nowinski's photography, including the following:
    Nowinski (Ira) Photographs of the Stanford Powwow (PC0143)
    Ira Nowinski photographs made for catalog (MSS-PHOTO-0245)
    Video players / photography by Ira Nowinski (MISC-1626)
    Studio Man Ray : photographs by Ira Nowinski (MISC-2145-OS)
    Matt Phillips photograph of Ira Nowinski (MISC-1367)
    Ira Nowinski and Debra Lehtone collection of Matt Phillips art (MSS-PRINTS-0480)
    San Francisco. Chinatown and International Hotel : photographs by Ira Nowinski (MSS-PHOTO-0304)
    Bay Area video arcades : photographs by Ira Nowinski (MSS-PHOTO-0309)
    Fiesta La Virgen Guadalupe, Zihuatanejo : pigment prints by Ira Nowinski (MSS-PHOTO-0473)
    Bay Area Video Arcades: Photographs by Ira Nowinski, 1981-1982 (MSS-PHOTO-0477)
    Barra de Navidad, Merida : photographic prints by Ira Nowinski (MSS-PHOTO-0491)
    Jalisco and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico : photographic prints by Ira Nowinski (MSS-PHOTO-0492)
    Southeast Asian refugees : photographic prints by Ira Nowinski (MSS-PHOTO-0495)
    Ira Nowinski collection relating to the I-Hotel eviction and movement (M1959)
    Mayan architecture: Chichen Itza and Uxmal : photographic prints by Ira Nowinski (MSS-PHOTO-0474)
    Ira Nowinski; the photographer as witness : material relating to the exhibit and its catalog at Stanford UnIiversity Libraries (M1553)
    Filipino-Asian South of Market Portfolio (MSS-PHOTO-0523)
    California Native Americans in the 21st century : archival pigment prints (MSS-PHOTO-0272)
    Chinatown Year of the Snake : portfolio of photographic prints (MSS-PHOTO-0494)
    Baja California: 150 8x10 prints; Baja California: 25 16x20 prints (MSS-PHOTO-0452)
    Waldheim Cemetery, Chicago: b/w photographic prints (MSS-PHOTO-0453)
    Peru: photographic prints (MSS-PHOTO-0456)
    Ira Nowiniski photographs made for exhibit (MSS-PHOTO-0244)
    Additionally, some of Nowinski's photo books have been cataloged here: https://searchworks.stanford.edu/catalog?q=%22Ira+Nowinski+Photograph+Collection.%22&search_field=subject_terms

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Jews, Russian -- California -- San Francisco.
    Karaites -- California -- Foster City.
    Segal Holocaust Memorial.
    Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) in art.
    Karaites -- Egypt -- Cairo -- Religious life and customs.
    Warsaw Ghetto Memorial (Warsaw, Poland)
    Jewish studies.
    Karaites -- Israel -- Religious life and customs.
    Warsaw (Poland) -- History -- Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, 1943.
    Jewish photographers.
    Photographers -- United States.
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.