*** photography : photographers -- Charles Weever Cushman

American Photographers: Charles Weever Cushman (United States, 1896-1972)

American jeans
Figure 1.--Here is a scene from Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco during June 1940. Notice the jeans the boys are wearing. Click on the image for one of his Deopression scenes. Source: Cushman Collection. Indiana University.

Charles Weever Cushman was an amateur photographer and Indiana University graduate. He lived at various times in Chicago and dedicated his life to capturing photographic images of mid-20th (1938-69). He began his project during the last years of the Great Depression. His primary focus was on America. The images thus span the Depression, World War II homefront, and post-War Boom. He did some very interested work in other countries. He has left us, for example, beautiful Paris images at a time that we still mostly see the city in black and white. His methodology was street photography. Cushman provides some of the earliest color images of America and other countries. Photography at the time was black and white providing images in shades of gray. Cushman's work is a welcomed color additiion to a world of gray. After World War II (1941-45) color photography begins to grow, but was expensive, only becoming common in the 1970s. Cushman worked from his car and there are many road-side and street images. The project affected his marriages. His wives apparently did not share his single-minded pursuit of his project and life on the road. He began during the Depression with a Ford coup and went through a series of cars. There are very few American color images from the 1930s and even in the 40s, photography was mostly black and white. Many of his images are unpolished, unglamorous. but remorlessly honest views of America and its people, both urban and rural. His road-side/street approach means that the imagery is rather focused on lower-income Amnericans. His work is a tremendous historical archive of American cultural life. He bequeathed about 14,500 Kodachrome color slides to Indian University.


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Created: 3:37 PM 4/2/2011
Last updated: 9:36 PM 1/4/2023