Photographer's Eighty-Year Career Captures Many Historic Moments on Film - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Photographer's Eighty-Year Career Captures Many Historic Moments on Film

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Monday, July 2, 2007

94-year-old Ben Rosen began career as 14-year-old apprentice 

CINCINNATI, OH:–Ben Rosen–a native Cincinnatian who served as the official photographer for both The Catholic Telegraph and The American Israelite for many years–has given his entire photographic collection to The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives (AJA), located on the Cincinnati campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. The Rosen collection includes thousands of photos taken over Rosen's 80-year career. 

Many of the photos in the collection document some of the most historic moments of Cincinnati life during the 20th century. From the visit of Charles Lindbergh to Lunken Airport in 1927 and chilling photos of the devastating effects of the 1937 flood; to shots of Presidents, sports figures, celebrities and everyday life, Rosen's collected works provide unique 'snapshots' of life in the Queen City during rapidly changing times. Also, Rosen's work with The Catholic Telegraph and The American Israelite make his photographic collection rich in its documentation of Greater Cincinnati's religious life and history. 

Rosen's career began in 1927 when he was just a 14-year-old boy. It was the start of the depression era when young Ben walked into the to office of Dan Morgenthaler Photography at 5th and Main Streets downtown looking for work after his father lost his job. Morgenthaler put Ben to work printing real estate photos for the multiple listing pages. Shortly after arriving at Morgenthaler Photography, famed aviator Charles Lindbergh was scheduled to fly into Cincinnati. Mr. Morgenthaler gave Ben a Leica camera and asked him to go down to Lunken Field to take some pictures. "That was thrilling," says Ben. "Here I had been a newspaper boy in 1926, shouting 'Extra! Extra! Lindbergh flies over the ocean!', and only months later, I was standing next to him at Lunken Field taking his picture and just hoping I knew what I was doing with that camera!" 

In 1937, following the death of Mr. Morgenthaler, Ben purchased the studio and went into business. During World War II, he served as part of the U.S. Army's photo-reconnaissance squadron. "Before I walked into Morgenthaler's studio that day in 1927, I had never really thought about what I wanted to do in life," recalls Rosen. "But once I began working there, I never thought about pursuing any other line of work. I've loved being a photographer. No two days were ever alike, and I have met so many interesting people I might have never met if not for my job. It's been quite a ride." Rosen has also photographed Presidents Reagan and Ford; Mother Theresa, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Bob Hope, sports celebrities, and many local religious leaders. During the 1960s and 1970s, Ben was the official photographer for the Cincinnati Royals , the city's former NBA basketball franchise. 

The AJA is believed to possess the world's richest photographic collection documenting the history of American Jewry," said Dr. Gary P. Zola, Executive Director of the AJA. "And Ben Rosen's remarkable collection will be a glittering star in the constellation of photographic holdings we preserve. I know that researchers from around the world will make use of the Rosen collection and we look forward to making these photos widely accessible." Archivists at the AJA are currently in the process of cataloguing the collection so that the materials can be made available to students, scholars, researchers or anyone interested in the exploring the colorful history of Cincinnati life in the 20th century. 

The American Jewish Archives is in itself an extraordinary historical repository with significance that goes well beyond Cincinnati and the Midwest. Now marking the sixtieth anniversary of its establishment, the AJA has become the world's largest free-standing research center dedicated solely to the study of the American Jewish experience. Its rich holdings attract researchers from around the world. 

MEDIA: For more information or to arrange for an interview with Mr. Rosen or Dr. Zola, please contact Joyce Kamen at 513.543.8109. 

The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, founded in 1947 by its namesake on the Cincinnati, Ohio, campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, is committed to preserving a documentary heritage of the religious, organizational, economic, cultural, personal, social and family life of American Jewry. The Marcus Center contains over 15,000 linear feet of archives, manuscripts, nearprint materials, photographs, audio and videotapes, microfilm, and genealogical materials. 

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates leaders to serve North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, museums, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding.