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Charles Harbutt teaching notebooks

Identifier: KA-0140-01


Charles Harbutt taught photography at Parsons School of Design from the early 1990s until his death in 2015. He served as the president of the photographic cooperative Magnum twice, and his work appeared in many publications and exhibitions. The collection consists of material created and assembled by Harbutt for his Parsons classes.


  • 1997 - 2015



0.4 Cubic Feet (1 box, 1 folder)

Language of Materials


Scope and Content of Collection

The collection comprises materials created and assembled by Charles Harbutt for courses in photography that he taught at Parsons School of Design. It includes syllabi, class assignments, readings, and examples of student work. The collection contains some copies of Harbutt’s photography and written work, including a copy of the epilogue he wrote for his book Travelog, which he considered one of his most significant contributions to the field of photography. These teaching materials relate Harbutt's experiences as a photographer and reflect his outlook on photography.

The bulk of the material is undated aside from syllabi and some student work. Most courses covered in this collection were taught for periods of time longer than the dates represented in the material itself.

The material was organized by Hartbutt into five separate binders by class title. Some modifications to the binder contents and organization were made in the years following Harbutt's death by his widow Joan Liftin, who is also a photographer and photography teacher. The binder titles were retained as the titles for the files in this collection.

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research use. Please contact for appointment.

Use Restrictions

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from The New School Archives and Special Collections. Please contact:

Biographical Note

Charles Harbutt (1935-2015) was born in Camden, New Jersey and grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey. He attended Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he studied journalism. In 1959, while working as a staff writer and photographer for the Catholic magazine Jubilee, Harbutt went to Cuba to document the Cuban Revolution. The experience was transformative, and he quit journalism for a career in photography.

Harbutt would go on to photograph migrant workers, the slums of the Lower East Side, protests against the war in Vietnam, and towns in the Yucatan, Mexico. His photographs appeared in many publications including The New York Times, Life, Look, and National Geographic and are in the collections of major museums such as The Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Center for Creative Photography. Harbutt served twice as the president of the photographers’ cooperative Magnum and taught for many years at Parsons School of Design, where he was appointed to the full-time faculty in 1999.

Source: Roberts, Sam. “Charles Harbutt, Photojournalist With an Eye for Art as Well as News, Dies at 79.” The New York Times (New York, NY), July 5, 2015.

Organization and Arrangement

Arranged chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated to The New School Archives in 2018 by his wife, Joan Liftin.

Related Materials

The New School Archives holds the records of the Parsons School of Design academic departments, programs and schools (PC.02.01.02), including a subject file for Charles Harbutt; and a recording of Charles Harbutt's 1985 Photojournalism Focus lecture, which is part of the New School-Parsons Department of Photography Focus Lecture records (PC.07.02.02).

The Center for Creative Photography in Tuscon, Arizona holds Harbutt’s archives, negatives, and master prints.

Guide to the Charles Harbutt teaching notebooks
New School Archives and Special Collections Staff
June 18, 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description