Date of Defense

Summer 7-15-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Art in Art and Design (MAAD)

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Joe Thomas


Museum Studies

Committee Member

Matt Haffner

Committee Member

Lili Corbus


Documentary photography has been a historically difficult medium to define. Is it art, or journalism or somewhere in between? Over time, the medium has undergone several redefinitions as photography became more accessible to the masses through technological advances, and its inclusion in museum spaces. By examining the history of photography, the elitist motivations of museums in the early twentieth century, and the curatorial practices of landmark photographic shows organized by Alfred Stieglitz of the Photo-Secessionist movement, Roy Stryker of the Farm Security Administration, and Beaumont Newhall, Edward Steichen, and John Szarkowski of the Department of Photography at MoMA, this paper explores the history of documentary photography and its curatorial evolution in museums from 1902 to 1967.