Social Framework: Photographs by Marion Palfi, 1945-1960

Description

"Social Framework: Photographs by Marion Palfi, 1945-1960," is a collection of photographs taken by Marion Palfi, a member of the New York Photo League. This collection captures a diverse spectrum of the American population and daily life from the end of the Second World War to 1960.
Palfi often chose to go where other photographers either did not go, or where they could not gain access. In so doing, Palfi used her camera to study society and document people who were often "forgotten" by mainstream society, but never-the-less constituted part of the American social fabric.
Therefore, aspects of social and economic life from the mid-1940s to the 1960s that were not presented in textbooks or other media during that period, are represented in the photos. For example, the collection features African American servicemen in uniform, as well as photographs of African Americans working in a wartime factory plant.

The economic disparity in the lives of the working class is evident in images of people waiting in line for jobs at an employment office, and in images of dilapidated housing in poor neighborhoods. The daily lives of southern African Americans is captured in photos of farming, church schools, laborers, and country scenes. Evidence of the racial discrimination African Americans endured at the hands of Jim Crow are imprinted on photographs of "Whites Only" segregation signs appearing on storefronts.
In addition to Southern scenes, New York's Harlem neighborhood is also displayed prominently. Photographs of Harlem buildings and residents, as well as of building entrances, including the now defunct Sydenham Hospital, were immortalized by Palfi's lens.

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Two African American men, one seated one standing near bales of cotton ready for shipment near a building marked, "Marion." Verso reads: Marion, Alabama
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Three students in a classroom sitting at desks with their books open while their instructor is seated in front of the classroom at a desk.
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Gathering of the 1945 Tennessee Valley Boy Scout Council held at Trinity School in Athens, Alabama. Photograph from scrapbook entitled, "Picture Story of Trinity School." Caption reads: THE TENNESSEE VALLEY BOY SCOUT COUNCIL IN ITS ANNUAL MEETING - 1945 (Trinity is the center for many large gatherings of the county.)
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A group of men sit and wait in an employment office waiting room. Caption reads: Employment
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A group of African American school children seated in a classroom reading books.
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Scene of a father and son working doing fieldwork together in the South.
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Doorway view of a row of tenement houses. In front of the houses is a debris-filled lot. Verso reads: slum area
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Interior of a home depicting clothes or fabrics hanging.
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White minister and African American man at dinner. Caption reads: White minister + Negro
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Nursery school students painting and receiving instruction from their teacher at Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana. Caption reads: NURSERY SCHOOL Verso reads: Dillard
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Female tenant farmer on the steps of her home. Photograph from scrapbook entitled, "Picture Story of Trinity School." Caption reads: A TENANT FARMER'S HOME. (Evidently the Boss does not like visitors.)
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View of flowers and trees on the side of a home in the suburbs, 1945.
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A group of four New York City bus drivers conversing on the street with buildings in the background. Caption reads: Bus drivers
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Closeup of the hand-painted sign in the window of Lyda's Barber Shop that reads: Whites Only. Caption reads: White Barber
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A young female student demonstrating a problem on the black board in front of the class while her instructor and classmates look on.
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Entrance to a school building that reads, "Knowledge is Power" in New York, New York, 1945.
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Side view of an older African American man dressed in a sweater waiting to hitch a ride. Caption reads: Ride
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Curb view of an African American man standing near the street "thumbing" for a ride. Caption reads: Ride
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Storefront view of the Fifth Avenue Beauty Salon in Harlem (N.Y.) Caption reads: Harlem slum
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Front portrait of an older African American man who was "thumbing" or waiting to hitch a ride. Caption reads: Ride

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