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Jacob A. Riis
Transcript of Jacob A. Riis
The Time Period
Riis and Truth
Industrial Revolution mid to late 1800's
The Progressive Era 1890-1920
Spanish American War 1890 (not too severe post war era)
12 Million immigrants came to America between 1870 and 1900 looking for jobs and economic stability (Library of Congress)
Theodore Roosevelt Elected President 1901
The Shame of the Cities published in 1902
The Jungle published in 1905
"The book stimulated the first significant New York legislation to curb tenement house evils" (Britannica)
"He was a terror to the officials and landlords responsible, as he saw it, for the desperate condition of the tenements where the poor lived" (Autobiography, Lincoln Steffens)
Pieces like "Street Arabs in Sleeping Quarters" and "Family Living in a one Room Tenement" made Riis famous in the long run
By Tori C. Guzman
Vol XCIII, No. 311
Jacob A. Riis
Born May 3, 1849 in Ribe Denmark
One of 15 kids
Only him and two sisters lived beyond 1900
Immigrated to America in 1870
Juggled many jobs including salesman, bricklayer, and farmer.
Finally acquired a job as a Police Reporter
He embellished his reports with photography
Died May 29, 1914
Audience posed a pressure...
Jacob A. Riis: Photojournalist and Muckraker
Biography: A little about the man behind the lens
Why Riis Was Well Known
People were on the streets and it had been happening more and more recently
Anyone at anytime could lose their job in the terrible economy, therefore it wasn't just a problem for those already experiencing it
Anywhere you looked, people were in rags, working dangerous machinery for pennies a day, and living in the slums. It was a widespread problem on every corner
The problem was affecting millions:
Life expectancy for people was appx. 50 years (National Health Care for the Homless Council)
Homelessness was at an all time high
Illness spread quickly because of cramped living situations
The living conditions and the lifestyle of the people were terrible and it was almost a social status war
People stole to stay alive
Only those who had enough money and goods could survive
The struggles of the lower class had been occurring for a long time, and only worsened. Riis was able to shed a spotlight on the problem in order to give it the importance that it needed.
Journalists strive to be truthful in their reports
Including the cold hard facts, that others may tend to hide or minimize importance
Riis would often show up in a tenement and ask to photograph the setting as it was
Tenement owners tended to try and hide the problems in the homes
Oh, God! That bread should be so dear, and flesh and blood so cheap
-How the Other Half Lives
Pressures and Motivations
The audience needed to be addressed and moved in a certain way
The content needed to be something that could start a movement or bring attention to the problem which affected the majority of the population, as opposed to those sweeping it under the rug.
It was a topic everyone witnessed but not many people were given a voice
Motivations for Riis
In hopes to change the living standards of the lower class
To give people a chance at succeeding in life and to get out of poverty (pursuing a story that could impact people's lives)
Uncovering the truth behind the tenements (finding out what was really happening)
A Wonderful Photojournalist
Riis did something that rarely anyone did...
As long as people had money in their pockets and had a good life, others didn't matter
Riis brought the severity of poverty to the attention of everyone
He delivered factss well as substantial truth
Photographs conveyed a message to the public as it was his duty to do so, not just as his job as a police reporter, but for the sake of humanity itself
The unjust circumstances were voiced
His lasting importance
Jacob Riis was one of the first to use photography as part of journalism
His photojournalism was also considered to be muckraking which only magnified the importance of his work
Works set off inspiration for other photojournalist like Lewis Hine, Dorothea Lange, and Walker Evans
Child labor laws created, progressive movements made to better the lives of the working class, and educated people as to what immigrants go through when coming to America
Day, 20 Homeless Persons’ Memorial. "The Hard, Cold Facts about the Deaths of Homeless People." Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, 2006 The Hard, Cold Facts About the Deaths of Homeless People (n.d.): n. pag. Web.
"Jacob A. Riis | Biography - American Journalist." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2015.
"Jacob A. Riis." The New York Times. The New York Times, n.d. Web.
"Muckrakers." Ushistory.org. Independence Hall Association, n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.
Riis, Jacob A. How the Other Half Lives: Studies among the Tenements of New York. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1890. Print.
Stamp, Jimmy. "Pioneering Social Reformer Jacob Riis Revealed "How The Other Half Lives" in America." Smithsonian. N.p., n.d. Web.
Taylor, Quintard, Jr. "United States History: Timeline." Pursuing the Past in the 21st Century. University of Washington, n.d. Web.
Yochelson, Bonnie, and Daniel Czitrom. "Rediscovering Jacob Riis: Exposure Journalism and Photography in Turn-of-the-Century New York." Picturing US History All. CUNY, n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2015.