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Sidney Grossman collection

Identifier: AG 56

Scope and Contents

The bulk of the collection is photographic material (negatives and contact prints) documenting Grossman’s work between 1934 and 1955. The collection includes over 5,900 negatives, ranging in format from 35 mm. to 4x5 in., which represent most of Grossman’s photographic career and provide a comprehensive view of his work. Personal and commercial projects represented include: Gruesomes (ca. 1935 – 1945); The Chelsea Document (1938 – 1939); Harlem (1939); Folksingers (1940 – 1955); Midwest (1940); Black Christ Festival, Panama (1945); Central America (1945 – 1946); New York (1946 – 1948); Coney Island (1947 – 1948); American Legion (1947 – 1948); Mulberry Street (1948); Provincetown (1949 – 1955); Ballet (1951 – 1955). See Creative Camera 223 (July 1983), pp. 1040-41 for descriptions of these projects.

Activity files include a typescript of notes for a class, probably in New York, taught by Grossman around 1953. Publications include a few tear sheets of his work for Lord and Taylor, a department store, and various periodicals, 194? – 195?; complete issues of Air News (Apr. 1944), U.S. Camera (Nov. 1944) and Collier’s (11 Dec. 1948); several copies of his only book project, Journey to the Cape (1959); and one copy of a book, County Fair (1938), with text by Phil Strong and images by Josephine von Miklos and others. Reference files include an article on corporate law (194?); a woodblock print; and clippings of published photographs, 1934 – 1949, by other photographers.

There is no information in the collection which documents Grossman’s work for the Works Progress Administration in 1938, or his membership and leadership in the Film and Photo League in New York, 1935 to 1949. There is little evidence of his teaching or exhibition activities.


  • Creation: 1934-1955


Language of Materials

Material in English

Conditions Governing Access

To access materials from this collection, please contact

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the user to obtain permission from the copyright owner (which could be the institution, the creator of the record, the author or his/her transferees, heirs, legates or literary executors) prior to any copyright-protected uses of the collection.

The user agrees to indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the Arizona Board of Regents, the University of Arizona, Center of Creative Photography, including its officers, employees, and agents, from and against all claims made relating to copyright or other intellectual property infringement

Biographical Note

Sidney “Sid” Grossman was born in New York City on June 25, 1913. He attended City College of New York from 1932 to 1934. He was a self-taught photographer. Around 1934 or 1935, Grossman joined the Film and Photo League. In 1936, at the age of 23, he was a founding member of the Photo League, an organization of professional and amateur photographers that existed in New York City between 1936 and 1951. He taught documentary photography courses at the Photo League School until 1949. Grossman separated with the Photo League in 1949 when accusations of anti-communists brought dissention and blacklisting to the League’s members.

In 1938, Grossman began work with the Works Progress Administration, photographing Negro Life in America. The same year, he began a documentary project with Sol Libsohn, the Chelsea Document, which continued through 1940. During the 1940s, Grossman exhibited his work with the Photo League as well as New York City galleries. He married his first wife, Emma Marion Hille in 1941, although later divorced. Between 1943 and 1946, he served in the United States Army in the Public Relations Section of the 6th Army Air Corps in Panama. His work from 1946-1948 accounts for a full third of his lifetime production, which included his photographs at Coney Island. The Coney Island work was shown in the 1949 exhibition, This is the Photo League, curated by Nancy Newhall.

In 1949, Grossman married his second wife, Miriam Echelman and together they had a son, Adam. Grossman and his wife, Miriam, moved to Provincetown, Massachusetts, and he enrolled in Hans Hoffman’s School of Painting. While living in Cape Cod, he also experimented with color photography of the beaches and town, and opened his own Provincetown School of Photography. Many of the images he captured in Cape Cod were published posthumously in the book, Journey to the Cape.

Sidney Grossman passed away due to heart disease on December 31, 1955 at the age of 42. Much of his work has been rarely exhibited or published.


34 Boxes (23.25 linear feet)

Metadata Rights Declarations

  • License: This record is made available under an Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Creative Commons license.


Papers and photographic materials, 1934 – 1955, of Sidney “Sid” Grossman (1913 – 1955), photographer. Includes correspondence, lecture notes, publications, tear sheets, clippings, negatives, and original and copy contact prints.


The collection is divided into Papers and Photographic materials. All materials in the Papers series are arranged chronologically.

  1. Series 1: Papers, 1934-1959
  2. Correspondence, ca. 1950
  3. Activity files, ca. 1953
  4. Reference files, 1934 – 1950s
  5. Publications, 1940s – 1959
  6. Series 2: Photographic materials, circa 1934-1955
  7. Negatives, 6x6 cm., 4x5 in., circa 1934 – 1955
  8. Negatives, 35 mm., 1948 – 1955
  9. Transparencies, 1945 – 1955
  10. Contact prints, circa 1934 – 1955
  11. Contact print catalog, circa 1934 – 1955

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was received between 1982 and 1984 from Anne Tucker of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas. The collection had been organized by Tucker before shipping, with additional processing required by the Center for Creative Photography.


  1. Grossman, Sid
  2. Photo League

Processing Information

Initial processing completed in July, 1985, by David Peters. Final processing completed in the fall of 1990 by Heather McAsh. Finding aid updated by Alexis Peregoy in December, 2016.

Sidney Grossman archive 1934-1955
Finding aid created by Andy Hayt
© 2017
Description rules
Finding Aid Based On Dacs (Describing Archives: A Content Standard)
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid encoded in English .

Repository Details

Part of the Center for Creative Photography Archives Repository

1030 N. Olive RD
Tucson Arizona 85721 United States