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Sections: biography | Reporter | Photographer | Writer | Reformer | Lecturer | ally | Riis and Reform | Legacy

“I was a writer and a newspaper man, and also Ionly yelled about the conditions which i saw.My re-publishing in the occupational of the slums has been that.I have not had a ten-thousandth component in the fight,but i have remained in it.”

Jacob RiisQuoted in the San Jose Mercury (March 11, 2022)

Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914) to be a journalist and also social reformer that publicized the crises in housing, education, and poverty at the elevation of European immigration to brand-new York City in the late nineteenth century. His career as a reformer to be shaped through his innovative use of photographs of brand-new York’s slums to substantiate his words and vividly disclose the realities the squalid living and also working conditions faced by the inhabitants. Harrowing photos of tenements and also alleyways where new York’s immigrant neighborhoods lived, an unified with his evocative storytelling, were intended come engage and inform his audience and exhort them come act. Riis helped set in movement an activist legacy linking photojournalism through reform.

This exhibition repositions Riis together a multi-skilled communicator who dedicated his life to creating articles and also books, carrying lectures nationwide, and also doggedly advocating for social change. Jacob Riis: Revealing “How the Other fifty percent Lives” features Riis’s correspondence, documentary photographs, drafts and published works, lecture notes, scrapbook pages, appointment books, jae won records, family history, and partnerships from transparent his career. The side walls of the exhibition frame Riis’s call to action on troubles he focused on together a reporter—housing, homelessness, public space, immigration, education, crime, public health, and labor. This pressing issues remain in ~ the head of countless public debates today.

By merging, because that the very first time, the documents the Riis family members gifted come the Library that Congress and also his photographs in the arsenal of the Museum the the City of new York, Jacob Riis: Revealing “How the Other fifty percent Lives” provides tourists with an unmatched opportunity to understand the indelible note Riis’s brand of social reform left upon ours vision that humanity and also poverty in the urban landscape as the Gilded age shifted into the steady Era.


Jacob Riis. I Scrubs. Museum of the City of brand-new York. Gift of i get it William Riis ( (086.00.00)

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Jacob Riis, Richard Hoe Lawrence, and also Henry G. Piffard, photographers. Bandits’ Roost, 1887–1888. Museum of the City of brand-new York. Gift of roger William Riis ( & .105) (018.00.00)


Jacob Riis. How the Other fifty percent Lives, Studies among the Tenements of brand-new York. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1890. Rare Book and also Special collections Division, Library of congress (063.00.00)