Max Desfor Photographs and Papers 1936-2008

Summary
Contents
Names/subjects
Using these materials
Creator
Desfor, Max
Size
9.5 linear feet (14 archival boxes, 1 archival legalbox, 1 reelbox and 1 flatbox)
Call number
MC 00128

The Max Desfor Photographs and Papers contain photographs taken by Max Desfor while he was employed with the Associated Press from 1940 to 1968. There are also newspaper clippings, personal correspondence, business correspondence and other files dating from 1942 to 2008 as well as numerous photographs and negatives dating from 1936 to 2008. Also included in the collection are many photographs and negatives dated from 1936 to 2008 documenting Desfor's experiences in Korea, Japan, India and many other places, foreign and domestic. Some are photographs Desfor took for AP jobs while others are personal. The collection also contains Desfor's Pulitzer Prize-winning war photo, "Flight of Refugees Across Wrecked Bridge in Korea," taken in 1950, of Korean refugees fleeing along the twisted girders of a bombed bridge. The collection also contains videocassettes and CDs ranging in dates from 1985 to 2008, although most of them are undated, as well as slides from 1969 and 1972.

Max Desfor was born in New York City on November 8, 1913. He studied at Brooklyn College in New York. He started his career at the Associated Press in 1933 as a darkroom assistant. In 1938, Desfor became staff photographer at the Associated Press bureau in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1939 he joined the Associated Press staff in Washington, D.C. In 1942 he was promoted to photo editor and in 1944 he was promoted to war correspondent and assigned to photograph Admiral Nimitz's command in the Pacific Ocean area.

Biographical/historical note

Max Desfor was born in New York City on November 8, 1913. He studied at Brooklyn College in New York. He started his career at the Associated Press in 1933 as a darkroom assistant. In 1938, Desfor became staff photographer at the Associated Press bureau in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1939 he joined the Associated Press staff in Washington, D.C. In 1942 he was promoted to photo editor and in 1944 he was promoted to war correspondent and assigned to photograph Admiral Nimitz's command in the Pacific Ocean area.

In 1945, Desfor photographed Japan's surrender on board the USS Missouri. Desfor also reported on the War Crime Trials in Manila and disturbances in India. In 1949 he moved to Rome and in 1950 travelled to Asia to photograph the Korean War. In 1951, Desfor won the Pulitzer Prize in the general photograhy category for his coverage of the war in a photo, "Flight of Refugees Across Wrecked Bridge in Korea," taken in 1950, of Korean refugees fleeing along the twisted girders of a bombed bridge.

In 1954, Desfor worked in an executive position in New York with the Associated Press. Fourteen years later, in 1968, he returned to Tokyo and worked as Asia Photo Editor. Desfor retired from the Associated Press after 45 years of service. Later that same year in 1968, he was hired as a Photo Editor by U.S. News and World Report in Washington. Five years later, in 1973, as Director of Photos, he retired permanently.

Desfor received the Editor & Publisher Award; Diamond Graflex Award; Editor of the Year Award from the National Press Photographers Association; White House News Photographers Association; and Eastman Kodak’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Desfor served as president of FCCJ, The Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, from July 1974 to June 1975.

Scope/content

The Max Desfor Photographs and Papers contain photographs taken by Max Desfor while he was employed with the Associated Press from 1940 to 1968. There are also newspaper clippings, personal correspondence, business correspondence and other files dating from 1942 to 2008 as well as numerous photographs and negatives dating from 1936 to 2008. Most of the correspondence is personal and written to Desfor's brother, Irving Desfor, nicknamed "Doc" because he wanted to be a doctor at one point, and presumably Irving's wife, Gertrude, often referred to as "Gert" in the letters. Also included in the collection are many photographs and negatives dated from 1936 to 2008 documenting Desfor's experiences in Korea, Japan, India and many other places, foreign and domestic. Some are photographs Desfor took for AP jobs while others are personal. The collection also contains Desfor's Pulitzer Prize-winning war photo, "Flight of Refugees Across Wrecked Bridge in Korea," taken in 1950, of Korean refugees fleeing along the twisted girders of a bombed bridge. The collection also contains videocassettes and CDs ranging in dates from 1985 to 2008, although most of them are undated, as well as slides from 1969 and 1972.

Arrangement

This collection is organized into three series by type of document:

    1. Correspondence and News Articles 2. Photographic Materials 3. Audiovisual Materials

Access to the collection

Collection is open for research; access requires at least 48 hours advance notice. Materials in this collection may not be reproduced.

Use of these materials

Materials in this collection may not be reproduced. This collection is made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. copyright law. The nature of the NC State University Libraries' Special Collections means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. The NC State University Libraries claims only physical ownership of most Special Collections materials. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials.

This collection may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which North Carolina State University assumes no responsibility.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Max Desfor Photographs and Papers, MC 00128, Special Collections Research Center, NC State University Libraries, Raleigh, NC

Source of acquisition

Gift of Max Desfor, 2009 (Accession no. 2009-0046)

Processing information

Processed and finding aid updated by Meaghan Lanier, April 2014

The collection is organized into three principal series:

Correspondence and News Articles 1942-2008 (MC 00128 Series 01)

This series contains newspaper clippings, personal correspondence, business correspondence and other files dating from 1942 to 2008. Most of the correspondence is personal and written to Desfor's brother, Irving Desfor, nicknamed "Doc" because he wanted to be a doctor at one point, and presumably Irving's wife, Gertrude, often referred to as "Gert" in the letters. Most of the newspaper clippings are articles that Desfor wrote or that feature photographs he took.

An attempt was made to arrange this collection chronologically while separating correspondence from newspaper for preservation. One challenge was that much of the correspondence lacked a date on the letter, so it was dated based on postmarks on the envelopes if they could be ascertained.

Correspondence circa 1945-circa 1960
Box 1-1, Folder 1
Correspondence 1945
Box 1-1, Folder 2
Correspondence 1946
Box 1-1, Folder 3
Correspondence 1947
Box 1-1, Folder 4
Correspondence 1948
Box 1-1, Folder 5
Correspondence 1949
Box 1-1, Folder 6
Correspondence 1950
Box 1-1, Folder 7
Correspondence 1951
legalhalfbox 1-2, Folder 1
Correspondence and Newsletters 1945-1973
legalhalfbox 1-2, Folder 2
Correspondence 1952
Box 1-1, Folder 8
Correspondence 1953
Box 1-1, Folder 9
Correspondence 1954
Box 1-1, Folder 10
Correspondence 1968
Box 1-3, Folder 1
Correspondence 1968
legalhalfbox 1-2, Folder 2
Correspondence 1969
Box 1-3, Folder 2
Correspondence. Arrived for home visit July 5, 1971 and returned August 1. Pictures of David Frost and Diahann Carroll 1968-1971
Box 1-3, Folder 3
Correspondence and Negatives 1971-1972
Box 1-3, Folder 4
Correspondence, Newsletters and Photographs 1973
Box 1-3, Folder 5
Correspondence 1974
Box 1-3, Folder 6
Correspondence 1975
Box 1-3, Folder 7
Correspondence 1976
Box 1-3, Folder 8
Correspondence, Newsletters and Photographs. Red China Visit 1976
Box 1-3, Folder 9
Correspondence 1977
Box 1-3, Folder 10
Correspondence 1978
Box 1-3, Folder 11
Correspondence, News Articles, Newsletters and Photographs 1975-1978
Box 1-3, Folder 12
Correspondence and Photographs. AP 1954, 1966-1980
Box 1-3, Folder 13
Brochures, Correspondence, Negatives, News Articles and Photographs 1985-1988
Box 1-3, Folder 14
Correspondence, Photographs, Programs and Negatives. Pulitzer Prize 1991-1993
Box 1-4, Folder 1
Correspondence and News Article. White House New Photographers' Association Achievement Award 1993-1994
Box 1-4, Folder 2
Correspondence and Photograph 1995
Box 1-4, Folder 3
News Articles and Photographs. Operation Father Christmas 1952-1996
Box 1-4, Folder 4
Correspondence. Twice Told Tales 1991, 1997
Box 1-4, Folder 5
Correspondence. Horst Faas and Boccardi 1996-1997
Box 1-4, Folder 6
Brochures, Correspondence and News Articles 1995-1999
Box 1-4, Folder 7
Correspondence and News Articles about photo of Gandhi and Nehru, made into a stamp 1973-1998
Box 1-4, Folder 8
Korean War Essay 1999
Box 1-4, Folder 9
Correspondence with and article by Claude Cookman related to Gandhi 1998-1999
Box 1-4, Folder 10
Articles about Max Desfor 1998-1999
Box 1-4, Folder 11
Internet articles about Korea era correspondents 2003
Box 1-4, Folder 12
CD, correspondence, forms and prints. National WWII Memorial - Tribute to a Generation 2004
Box 1-4, Folder 13
Articles about and photographs of Max Desfor 1987-2005
Box 1-4, Folder 14
Booklet, brochures, correspondence, event documents, news articles and photographs. Korean War Anniversary 2001-2005
Box 1-4, Folder 15
Articles and one negative about the photo of the bridge in Korea 1978-2007
Box 1-5, Folder 1
Correspondence, news articles, photographs and programs. National Press Club 1996-2007
Box 1-5, Folder 2
Press Release Tags 1983-2008
Box 1-5, Folder 3
Biographical materials of Max Desfor. Biographies, correspondence and news articles 2005-2008
Box 1-5, Folder 4
Correspondence and photographs. Signatures on a Japanese flag 2007-2008
Box 1-5, Folder 5
Magazines, News Articles and Correspondence 1944-1955
Box 1-5, Folder 6
News Articles Desfor wrote or with photographs he took, correspondence and photographs. Mostly India, including photos of Mahatma Gandhi (1 of 2) 1944-1954
Box 1-5, Folder 7
News Articles Desfor wrote or with photographs he took, correspondence and photographs. Mostly India, including photos of Mahatma Gandhi (2 of 2) 1944-1954
Box 1-5, Folder 8
Miscellaneous News Articles and Photographs 1951-1953
Box 1-5, Folder 9
Japan news clippings and some Korea news clippings and prints 1950-1969

After review, access to the digital copies may be provided for use in the SCRC Reading Room upon request.

The Special Collections Research Center, NC State University Libraries, has digital copies of some or all of these materials.

Box 1-6, Folder 1
Media clippings, negatives, prints related to Japan and Korea. 1947-1952
Box 1-6, Folder 2
Miscellaneous media clippings and correspondence with a few prints, negatives 1946-1952
Box 1-6, Folder 3
News clippings with some correspondence and prints, mostly related to Korea 1977
Box 1-6, Folder 4
Correspondence with some media clippings and few prints. 1946-1951
legalhalfbox 1-2, Folder 3
Issue of Modern Photography 1952
Box 1-6, Folder 5
Factbook of Wirephoto by the Associated Press Undated
Box 1-6, Folder 6
Miscellaneous correspondence, some news clippings and one print 1942-1970
Box 1-6, Folder 7
Photographic Materials 1936-2008 (MC 00128 Series 02)

This series contains many photographs and negatives dated from 1936 to 2008 documenting Desfor's experiences in Korea, Japan, India and many other places, foreign and domestic. Some are photographs Desfor took for AP jobs while others are personal.

This series is arranged chronologically.

Prints and negatives. Max and of Korea era signs. Most unlabeled and all undated Undated
Box 2-1, Folder 1
Tiny prints. Max and of Korea era signs. Most unlabeled and all undated (1 of 2) Undated
Box 2-1, Folder 2
Tiny prints. Max and of Korea era signs. Most unlabeled and all undated (2 of 2) Undated
Box 2-1, Folder 3
Negative. Max Desfor by Mary Morris in AP Office 1938
Box 2-1, Folder 4
Prints. Picking draft numbers out of a goldfish bowl 1941
Box 2-1, Folder 5
Print. Christmas, Washington Staff 1944
Box 2-1, Folder 6
Prints and Negatives. On Okinawa World War II 1945
Box 2-1, Folder 7
Prints and Negatives. Emperor Hirohito, Princess Elizabeth, etc. 1947
Box 2-1, Folder 8
Print and Negatives. Sent to Mr. & Mrs. I. Desfor, postmarked 8 January 1948. Dog in print, man in negatives 1948
Box 2-1, Folder 9
Prints. India 1936-1949
Box 2-5, Folder 3
Prints and media clippings. India 1947-1949
Box 2-6, Folder 3
Tiny prints. Sent to Mr. and Mrs. I. Desfor, postmarked 28 December 1949, of Clara and Barry and their apartment home 1949
Box 2-1, Folder 10
Prints. Korea, few newsclippings and correspondence. 1944-1950
Box 2-5, Folder 2
Prints. Mostly Korea, some others 1950
Box 2-6, Folder 6
Magazine, Negatives, Newsletter and Prints. Mostly of or about Max Desfor 1947-1951
Box 2-1, Folder 11
Prints. Korea Era Correspondents 1950-1951
Box 2-1, Folder 12
Prints and negatives. Korea. (1 of 2) 1950-1951
Box 2-5, Folder 4
Prints and negatives. Korea. (2 of 2) 1950-1951
Box 2-5, Folder 5
Prints. Princess Elizabeth 1951
Box 2-1, Folder 13
Negatives, some prints and some notes. Japan in 1952 and Hong Kong in 1957 (1 of 7) 1952, 1957
Box 2-2, Folder 1
Negatives, some prints and some notes. Japan in 1952 and Hong Kong in 1957 (2 of 7) 1952, 1957
Box 2-2, Folder 2
Negatives, some prints and some notes. Japan in 1952 and Hong Kong in 1957 (3 of 7) 1952, 1957
Box 2-2, Folder 3
Negatives, some prints and some notes. Japan in 1952 and Hong Kong in 1957 (4 of 7) 1952, 1957
Box 2-2, Folder 4
Negatives, some prints and some notes. Japan in 1952 and Hong Kong in 1957 (5 of 7) 1952, 1957
Box 2-3, Folder 1
Negatives, some prints and some notes. Japan in 1952 and Hong Kong in 1957 (6 of 7) 1952, 1957
Box 2-3, Folder 2
Negatives, some prints and some notes. Japan in 1952 and Hong Kong in 1957 (7 of 7) 1952, 1957
Box 2-3, Folder 3
Prints. Desfor in all of them 1956-1961
Box 2-3, Folder 4
Prints. Korea and others 1950-1968
Box 2-6, Folder 2
Prints and Correspondence. Korea. 1950-1969
Box 2-5, Folder 1
Prints. Tokyo Era 1951-1969
Box 2-3, Folder 5
Prints and Negatives. Irving "Doc" Desfor Promotion Department 1968-1969
Box 2-4, Folder 4
Prints. Japan, India and others 1946-1970
Box 2-6, Folder 1
Prints and Negatives. Mostly of Desfor with some newsclippings (1 of 3) 1951-1970
Box 2-4, Folder 5
Prints and Negatives. Mostly of Desfor with some newsclippings (2 of 3) 1951-1970
Box 2-4, Folder 6
Prints and Negatives. Mostly of Desfor with some newsclippings (3 of 3) 1951-1970
Box 2-4, Folder 7
Prints. Japan, India, Korea and of Desfor 1948-1971
Box 2-6, Folder 5
Prints. Appear to be from a cooking class 1975
Box 2-6, Folder 4
Prints, Slides, Newsletter and one letter. China 1976
Box 2-3, Folder 6
Prints, Newsletters and one letter. Korea and Tokyo 1977
Box 2-3, Folder 7
Prints. Max Desfor Undated, 1993
Box 2-3, Folder 8
Prints and Negatives. Max Desfor 1995-2001
Box 2-4, Folder 1
Prints. Personal - Family and Nature Undated, 2002-2005
Box 2-4, Folder 2
Prints and Programs. AP 25-year Club Dinner 2008
Box 2-4, Folder 3
Black glass piece with news writing by Max Desfor about Indonesia. Broken into several pieces Undated
Reel box 2-7
Audiovisual Materials 1969, 1972 and 1985-2008 (MC 00128 Series 03)

Videocassettes and CDs ranging in dates from 1985 to 2008, although most of them are undated. There are also slides from 1969 and 1972. Many of these videocassette tapes document Korean War Correspondents reunion meetings, Associated Press interviews and Pulitizer Prize history. Nearly all of the videocassette tapes are related to the Korean War in some way.

These items were arranged as they were encountered, maintaining original order.

VHS Tape. Label in Chinese with Desfor's Maryland Address Undated
Box 3-1
VHS Tape. Korean War Correspondents Reunion. Filming by Bill Shinn. Washington, D.C. 1993
Box 3-1
VHS Tape. Korean War Correspondents Reunion. 40th Anniversary of start of war. World Monitor and CNN Reports 1990
Box 3-1
VHS Tape. Korean War Correspondents Reunion Memorial Service at Arlington National Cemetary. CNN, NBC, Fox 1993
Box 3-1
VHS Tape. Capture the Essence Video Biography of Max Desfor Undated
Box 3-1
VHS Tape. Bong Hak Hyun, Max Desfor, Korean Schindler, Hangman Evacuation (Christmas Cargo) from North Korea 1950.12.24. 50 minutes 1999
Box 3-1
VHS Tape. The Korean War and 50 Years: Beyond the War toward Peace. 16 min Undated
Box 3-1
VHS Tape. Special Documentary (The Korean War, Fifty Years Later). Bringing out the Best of Korea Undated
Box 3-1
VHS Tape. The War in Korea Undated
Box 3-1
VHS Tape. "A Night to Remember." A Tribute to Korean War Veterans. November 4, 2001. Mechanics' Hall, Worcester, MA 2001
Box 3-1
VHS Tape. Korea: The Forgotten War Undated
Box 3-1
VHS Tape. Associated Press. "Interview with Max Desfor" 7/25/97 Tapes 1-4 1997
Box 3-1
VHS Tape. Shooting War. D. Brack Undated
Box 3-1
VHS Tape. Associated Press. "Memories of World War II" Undated
Box 3-1
VHS Tape. Interview. Channel 8. Re: World War II Memories by Nickole Killion 5/27/04 2004
Box 3-1
VHS Tape. World Monitor. Korean War Correspondents. Christian Science Monitor Television. June 25, 1990 1990
Box 3-1
VHS Tape. Associated Press. "Interview with Max Desfor" 7/25/97 Tapes 5-6 1997
Box 3-2
VHS Tape. National Press Club Oral History Series. Max Desfor - October 26, 2004 2004
Box 3-2
VHS Tape. Pulitzer Prize - History of the 20th Century - Korean 1999
Box 3-2
VHS Tape. Correspondents Korea Memorial - Levine 1993
Box 3-2
VHS Tape. Korean War correspondents reunited in Seoul 40 years after the start of the 1950-53 war Undated
Box 3-2
VHS Tape. First International Tribute to the Americans Who Gave Their Lives During the Korean War 1950-1953 1987
Box 3-2
VHS Tape. AP Photo Exhibition Undated
Box 3-2
VHS Tape. Korea: Beyond All Barriers Undated
Box 3-2
VHS Tape. Korean War Memorial Committee. "A Night to Remember" Television Coverage 11/4/01 2001
Box 3-2
VHS Tape. Interview by Nikole Killion, new Channel 8 Undated
Box 3-2
VHS Tape. Ask Washington 8/12/1985 1985
Box 3-2
VHS Tape. No Greater Love Tribute to War Correspondents. October 7, 1995, Part 2 1995
Box 3-2
VHS Tape. No Greater Love Tribute to War Correspondents. October 7, 1995, Part 1 1995
Box 3-2
VHS Tape. Label in Chinese with Desfor's Maryland Address and photo of bridge Undated
Box 3-2
VHS Tape. War in Korea, BBC, Part 1 Undated
Box 3-3, Folder 1
VHS Tape. War in Korea, BBC, Part 2 Undated
Box 3-3, Folder 2
CD. Sonya Davankar. Inside Media. Max Desfor 05/18/2008 2008
Box 3-3, Folder 3
CD. A Brief History of Travels of Max and Clara Desfor, Narrated by Max Desfor Undated
Box 3-3, Folder 4
Slides. Press Club Visit to Philippines 1969
Box 3-3, Folder 5
Slides. Coast of Izu Peninsula, Hills of Simla and Burma 1972
Box 3-3, Folder 6

Access to the collection

Collection is open for research; access requires at least 48 hours advance notice. Materials in this collection may not be reproduced.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Max Desfor Photographs and Papers, MC 00128, NC State University Libraries Special Collections Research Center

Use of these materials

Materials in this collection may not be reproduced. This collection is made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. copyright law. The nature of the NC State University Libraries' Special Collections means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. The NC State University Libraries claims only physical ownership of most Special Collections materials. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials.

This collection may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which North Carolina State University assumes no responsibility.