Harold Corsini Photographs, 1940s-1970s AIS.2007.05

ULS Archives & Special Collections

Summary Information

Repository
ULS Archives & Special Collections
Title
Harold Corsini Photographs
Creator
Corsini, Harold
Collection Number
AIS.2007.05
Date
1940s-1970s
Extent
55000.0 items (12 boxes, approximately 55,000 images)
Abstract
Harold Corsini worked as a freelance photographer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and as the official photographer of US Steel. This collection consists of commercial photographs taken for local and national businesses, industrial photographs taken for US Steel, as well as images from WWII and of Southeast Asia and East Africa. Digital reproductions of selected images are available online.

Preferred Citation

Harold Corsini Photographs, ca. 1943-1970s, AIS.2007.05, Archives & Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh Library System

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Biography

Born on August 28, 1919 in New York City, New York, Harold Raymond Corsini began a life of photography at the age of sixteen when he took an aerial shot of football players, which is now archived at the George Eastman House. His professional career began in the early 1940s, when he worked briefly for Life magazine. Corsini later joined photographer Roy Stryker on the Standard Oil project. Through this project, Corsini documented the oil company's operations worldwide, including in the Pacific and Saudi Arabia during World War II.

In 1950, Corsini and his wife, Mary, moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to assist Stryker as head of the photographic department at the Pittsburgh Photographic Library (PPL). While working for the PPL, Corsini, along with other notable photographers such as Clyde Hare, Elliot Erwitt, and Esther Bubley, created a visual record of the city's first Renaissance which began in the 1940s under Mayor David L. Lawrence.

After the PPL disbanded in 1960, Corsini began his own commercial photography business, producing ads for local companies as well as working with larger advertising firms. He later became the official photographer for US Steel. During this period, he chronicled many aspects of the steel industry, including industrial and technical pieces.

After Corsini retired from commercial photography in 1975, he spent nine years teaching photography and design at Carnegie Mellon University. Harold Corsini passed away on January 1, 2008. Museums around the world have displayed Corsini's photographs. His archived work with the Pittsburgh Photographic Library can be found at the Carnegie Public Library, Pennsylvania Department.

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Scope and Content Notes

The Harold Corsini Photographs contains photographs produced from the 1940s to the 1970s. Approximately 440 projects are represented in print, negative, and slide form. Many jobs for the US Steel Corporation are industrial in content. Other photographs produced for local and national advertising agencies were captured from locations around the country as well as in the studio. All are commercial and creative in content.

Photographs produced for US Steel artistically represent the essence of the steel industry. From labor to output, and followed by unique advertisements of commercial goods, the culture of the company is widely portrayed. Included are interior and exterior views of steel mills nationwide, depicting machinery, architecture and surrounding landscapes. Employees are creatively portrayed in varying aspects from executive portraits to visual documentaries of steel production.

Corsini worked principally with two main advertising agencies: Kellogg Media Group (KMG) and Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn, Inc. (BBD&O). Photographs were also produced for national and local firms including Iron Age Shoes and Westinghouse. Other notable western Pennsylvania companies that Corsini worked with were Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company (PPG), Alcoa, and H. J. Heinz Company. Photographic advertisements vary from studio-based commercial shots featuring products such as food goods, office equipment, and bath fixtures, to on-site views of architecture and interior design.

A small portion of the collection contains personal artistic photographs taken while traveling in India, Thailand, and Egypt highlighting local temples, monuments, and people. Also included are black and white images taken in the Pacific while serving as a WWII correspondent featuring war aircraft and personnel, as well as unrelated commercial portraits and other works.

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Arrangement

Collection is arranged numerically by job numbers assigned by the photographer.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

ULS Archives & Special Collections, June 2009

University of Pittsburgh Library System
Archives & Special Collections
Website: library.pitt.edu/archives-special-collectons
412-648-3232 (ASC) | 412-648-8190 (Hillman)
Contact Us: www.library.pitt.edu/ask-archivist

Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions to the collection; however, all copyrights are maintained by the Corsini family. Permission to publish is issued by the Corsini family.

Copyright

All copyrights reside with the Corsini family.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Harold Corsini in July 2007.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by John Tomasicchio and Renee J. Ziemann in November 2008.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital reproductions of the collection are available electronically at http://digital2.library.pitt.edu/collection/harold-corsini-photographs.

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Related Materials

Related Material

An index to the photographic jobs was provided by Mr. Corsini at the time of donation. This index can be found in the collection’s case file and includes a brief description of work projects numbers 1-2382. While it provides a look into the types of work completed by Mr. Corsini, not all jobs listed are contained within the physical collection held by the archives.

Collections of Corsini’s work are located in several repositories nationwide, including The University of Louisville Photographic Archives.

The George Eastman House of Photo Collections which houses two of Corsini’s photographs, “Playing football” and “Shoe Repair Shop, Cushing, Oklahoma.”

The Library of Congress houses much of Corsini’s work as a photographer for Standard Oil. This work can be found as part of two larger collections, lot 3562 titled, “Standard oil co. (N.J.), New York, N.Y.” and lot 11772 titled “Standard Oil Company operations in Northwest Territory, Canada, Feb.-Nov. 1944,” and two collections consisting only of Corsini’s work, lot 11778 “Oil fields and oil workers in the vicinity of the Persian Gulf” and lot 11768 “Photographs of workers building a derrick for Carter McAllister well #1 in Oklahoma.”

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) also houses several collections of Corsini’s work taken while working for the Petroleum Administration for War, including one collection of 252 photographs entitled, "A Photographic Story of Oil at War: Catalog of Photos for the Press Illustrating the War in the Pacific."

Yale University, Manuscripts and Archives, Sterling Memorial Library houses several images related to image number 02.1645.100. These are found in the Saarinen Collection in Oversize, Box 678, Folder 117 and slides found in Series IV, Box 400, Folder 1090.

The University of Pittsburgh’s University Library System has cataloged two volumes, Carnegie Mellon: A Portrait and  Floral Art for America, which contain his photographs.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Aluminum Company of America.
  • Armco Inc..
  • Batten, Barton, Durstine, & Osborn, Inc..
  • Burson-Marsteller Associates.
  • H.J. Heinz Company.
  • Kellogg Media Group.
  • Papercraft (Firm).
  • Pittsburgh Photographic Library.
  • Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company.
  • PPG Industries.
  • Smithsonian Institution.
  • United States Steel Corporation.
  • Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company.
  • Westmoreland Museum of American Art.

Genre(s)

  • Negatives (Photographic)
  • Photographs
  • Slides (Photographs)

Geographic Name(s)

  • Charlotte (N.C.)
  • Chicago (Ill.)
  • Cleveland (Ohio)
  • Dayton (Ohio)
  • Egypt
  • Franklin (Pa.)
  • Gary (Ind.)
  • India
  • New York (N.Y.)
  • Pittsburgh (Pa.)
  • Rainier, Mount (Wash.)
  • Seven Springs (Pa.)
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Washington (D.C.)
  • Winchester (Va.)

Personal Name(s)

  • Andrews, Gary
  • Butler, John
  • Corsini, Harold
  • De Andre, Frank
  • Haines, David
  • Inch, Robert
  • Platt, Pierce
  • Ross, Robert
  • Tayler, William
  • Varga, Arnold
  • Wylie, Paul

Subject(s)

  • Advertising, Industrial -- United States
  • Architecture
  • Business and Industry
  • Landscape photography
  • Photographers
  • Photographers -- United States
  • Photography, Industrial -- United States
  • Portrait photography -- United States
  • Travel photography
  • Urban renewal – Pennsylvania -– Pittsburgh – Photographs
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Photography

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Previous Citation

Harold Corsini Photographs, ca. 1943-1970s, AIS.2007.05, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

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Bibliography

Daniel Malloy, "Obituary: Harold Corsini / Photographer who chronicled steel industry Aug. 28, 1919 - Jan. 1, 2008," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 5, 2008. Nicholas Lemann, Album, "The Way They Were,"  The New Yorker, April 15, 2002, p. 72. "The Photographers: Harold Raymond Corsini," Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, source  Roy Stryker: U.S.A., 1943-1950 by Steven W. Plattner (1983).

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