Jacob Riis : reporter and reformer

by Pascal, Janet B.

Format: Print Book 2005
Availability: Available at 1 Library 1 of 1 copy
Available (1)
Location Collection Call #
CLP - Main Library Mezzanine - Non-fiction HV28.R53 P37 2005
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Mezzanine - Non-fiction
Call Number  HV28.R53 P37 2005
Jacob Riis (1849-1914) was born in Denmark and emigrated to America at the age of 21. After several years of poverty, he found work as a police reporter, which took him into the worst of New York's ghettos and tenements. Appalled by the conditions he found there, he began to use the primitivenew flash technology to photograph the dark places that had never before been so graphically exposed. The resulting book, How the Other Half Lives, brought to life an entire reform movement. Riis was a staunch ally in the young Theodore Roosevelt's battle to reform the New York police, breaking thebrutal system of corruption and graft that had prevented the possibility of any real change in poor neighborhoods. Riis's activism involved him in such vital current controversies as hostility toward immigration, the growing gulf between rich and poor, the relative importance of heredity andenvironment, the need for adequate public schools, conflicts between social reform and personal freedom, and police brutality. But at the same time, his life raises some thought-provoking moral questions, because his compassion was flawed by an underlying prejudice; his writings are marred by aclear underlying conviction of the superiority of white Protestants, and he speaks with condescension and occasional scorn of other races and religions. He remained an active reformer all his life, founding a settlement house, writing several more books, most notably The Children of the Poor, andmaintaining a taxing schedule of lecture tours.This biography includes a picture essay of Riis' photographs as well as, 35 black-and-white illustrations, a chronology, further reading, and an index.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Gr. 8-11. Detailed and eloquent, this biography in the Oxford Portraits series draws on primary sources to combine an in-depth portrait of Danish immigrant Riis, a nineteenth-century investigative journalist and photographer, with a close-up view of the social history of his time. The focus is on the tenements and sweatshops that Riis photographed (with newly invented flash techniques) and wrote about in a way that spoke directly to people's hearts. Never adulatory, Pascal is open about Riis' ethnic prejudices, even as she shows his compassionate sketches of individual people. Best of all is the Photo Essay: Riis as a Photographer, which includes nine of Riis' documentary pictures, accompanied by informative captions. A chronology, a bibliography, a list of further readings and Web sites, and sources for quotes are appended. Try this as supplementary material for American history studies. --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2006 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Additional Information
Series Oxford portraits.
Subjects Riis, Jacob A. -- (Jacob August), -- 1849-1914 -- Juvenile literature.
Social reformers -- New York (State) -- New York -- Biography -- Juvenile literature.
Photographers -- New York (State) -- New York -- Biography -- Juvenile literature.
Journalists -- New York (State) -- New York -- Biography -- Juvenile literature.
Slums -- New York (State) -- New York -- History -- Juvenile literature.
Tenement houses -- New York (State) -- New York -- History -- Juvenile literature.
New York (N.Y.) -- Social conditions -- Juvenile literature.
Publisher Oxford ; New York :Oxford University Press,2005
Edition 1st ed.
Language English
Description 175 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 167-169) and index.
ISBN 0195145275
Other Classic View