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Photojournalism: Dick Swanson

Dick Swanson and Gerald Ford Photo by David Hume Kennerly Dick Swanson and Gerald Ford
Photo by David Hume Kennerly

Dick Swanson grew up in rural Illinois and worked on his uncle’s newspapers. He later was staff photographer on the Champagne-Urbana News-Gazette while attending the University of Illinois. Swanson then worked on the Davenport Democrat and the Des Moines Register newspapers before signing a contract with Black Star Publishing Company.

Swanson went to Vietnam in 1966, where he worked for Life Magazine. In 1971, he moved to Washington, D.C., as Life’s White House photographer. After Life ceased publication in 1972, Dick remained in the Washington bureau working for Time, Fortune, and People magazines.

In April 1975, Swanson arrived in Saigon on the last flight in and escaped with his wife Germaine’s mother, sister, three brothers and their families on the last flight out of Saigon before it fell. He has freelanced since 1980, working for National Geographic, Newsweek, and the Washington Post, among others. Swanson has covered events in Asia, Central America, Europe, the Eastern Bloc countries, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and South Africa. His work is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.

Swanson donated his archive to the Briscoe Center in 1994.

Finding aid for the Dick Swanson Photographic Archive
Photojournalism (Collection Strength)
News Media History (Collection Strength)