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Briscoe Center Acquires Howard Sochurek Photographic Archive

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Sochurek parachuting into North Korea, 1950
Signs of Russian influence in North Korea, 1950
Vice President Richard Nixon visits Soviet Leader Nikita Khrushchev in Moscow, 1959
Veteran of Korea and Vietnam at unidentified rally, 1968

The Briscoe Center has acquired the archive of photojournalist Howard Sochurek (1924-1994) who spent twenty years as a staff photographer and writer for Life magazine. He went on become an early pioneer of computer-assisted imaging. Awarded the 1955 Robert Capa Gold Medal, the 1957 NPPA Magazine Photographer of the Year, and a Neiman Fellowship at Harvard in 1960, Sochurek’s images have appeared in Life, National Geographic, Time, and Smithsonian Magazine.

“Sochurek’s assignments in early the 1950s —to the Soviet Union, Indochina and across America — make this archive especially important to the center, as many of our photographic archives only begin with or after the Civil Rights movement,” said Don Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center. “His images from behind enemy lines during the Korean War are particularly significant, as is the fact he was able to combine writing and photography in his journalism.”

Born in Milwaukee in 1924, Howard Sochurek graduated from Princeton in 1942 and joined the Army Signal Corps. During World War II he photographed military operations, including the post-war occupation of Japan. In 1946, he returned to his hometown, shooting for the Milwaukee Journal before accepting a staff photographer position at Life magazine in 1950. Sent to cover the Korean War, Sochurek wrote and photographed his way across Asia. Later in the 1950s, he covered Vice President Richard Nixon’s visit with Soviet leader Nikolai Khrushchev in Russia.

Sochurek also worked in Life magazine's New York, Chicago, and Detroit bureaus. His domestic assignments documented the Eisenhower administration, the plight of America’s rural and urban poor, and the 1968 presidential election. After working in Life’s New Dehli and Singapore bureaus, Sochurek began freelancing in 1970 and his work transitioned towards digital-assisted photography. With a computer borrowed from NASA, he developed new methods for processing, combining and enhancing images, X-Rays, and CT scans. The results were often sought out by the medical community for use in textbooks. (A small amount of this work features in the archive.) Upon retirement, Sochurek and his wife Tania moved to Boynton Beach, Florida, where he passed away in April 1994.

The Howard Sochurek Photographic Archive includes prints, negatives, contact sheets, and slides. Printed materials include magazine copies, field notes, article drafts, business correspondence, books, manuscripts, and research materials.