Milton Rogovin

Dates1909 - 2011

Raised during the Great Depression, Milton Rogovin became politically active as a result of his impoverished childhood. He called himself a "social documentary photographer" and eventually devoted himself to photographing the segment of society he designated "the forgotten ones."

Rogovin studied optometry at Columbia University, then opened a shop in Buffalo, New York, in 1938. He purchased his first camera in 1942, the same year that he was drafted and got married. He initially made snapshots. In 1958, a collaboration with a professor of music to document music at storefront churches set Rogovin on his photographic path. Some of the photographs that Rogovin made in the churches were published in 1962 in Aperture magazine, edited by Minor White, with an introduction by W.E.B. Du Bois, a founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). That same year Rogovin began to photograph coal miners, a project that took him to France, Scotland, Spain, China, and Mexico. Many of these images were published in his first book, The Forgotten Ones.