Ace Alagna photographic collection: Online Finding Aid

Ace Alagna with camera.
Mss 0018: Ace Alagna with camera. 00182583

TheĀ Ace Alagna photographic collection, 1944-1998, Mss 0018, is a unique, rich resource depicting the history of Newark, the Italian American community in and around Newark, New Jersey politics, people, places, and events in beautiful black and white. This collection, which has more than 2,000 images already available online through the Ace Alagna photographs digital collection, has about 40,000 items including photographic negatives, prints, videos, and layout sheets from the Italian Tribune newspaper. Now, a finding aid describing the almost 30,000 negatives in the collection has been completed and is available online.

Ace Alagna was a photographer from Newark who worked in the White House Press Corps before buying the Italian Tribune newspaper. He edited the newspaper for almost 30 years, during which time he and the Italian Tribune were the organizers and main sponsors of the Newark Columbus Day parade. The annual parade usually had a celebrity grand marshal, often someone of Italian heritage, who would be present for the parade and attendant celebrations. Ace Alagna knew a wide a range of people in New Jersey, and traveled around the country and around the world.

Ace Alagna and Frank Sinatra at Tribune Award in Atlantic City.
Mss 0018: Ace Alagna and Frank Sinatra at Tribune Award in Atlantic City. mss0018_E0388_011

The Ace Alagna photographic collection, 1944-1998, Mss 0018, includes images of notable politicians, actors, athletes, musicians, and writers such as John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, N.J. Governors Richard Hughes and Brendan Byrne, Congressman Peter Rodino, Danny Aiello, Frank Sinatra, Connie Francis, Phil Brito, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Piscopo, Tony Curtis, Bob Hope, and Tony LoBianco, among many others. The collection includes numerous pictures of Newark and the Columbus Day parade from the 1970s-1990s, and a large number of pictures of N.J. politicians in the state senate and assembly.

Many of the images in the collection have been scanned, and so far a small percentage of those scans are available online. There are also unprocessed portions of the collection that have not yet been described in the finding aid, particularly black and white and color prints of many of the negatives, videos related to the Columbus Day parade, and some materials that appear to be layouts for images to appear in the Italian Tribune. Materials that are not available online are available for research, with the assistance of Archives staff, at the Archives and Special Collections Center. Additional scans will be made available online in the future, as time permits, and unprocessed materials will be added to the finding aid as they are processed. Keep an eye out for more images and materials, and meanwhile, take a close look through this rich window into Newark’s history and culture!

From the Shelves: the Jack Chance collection on Wendell Willkie and the 1940 presidential election

Two pages from Scrapbook 1 in the Jack Chance collection on Wendell Willkie and the 1940 presidential election,1939-1940, Mss 0023.
Two pages from Scrapbook 1 in the Jack Chance collection on Wendell Willkie and the 1940 presidential election,1939-1940, Mss 0023.

A new finding aid has been posted for a small but fascinating collection on American politics: the Jack Chance collection on Wendell Willkie and the 1940 presidential election, 1939-1940, Mss 0023. This collection consists of 5 scrapbooks containing newsclippings from 1939 and 1940 on the presidential election of 1940, as well as some additional information on Wendell Willkie, the Republican candidate in that race.

The 1940 presidential election was unusual in several respects: it marked the first (and only) time in American history that a President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, officially ran for a third term; both candidates were selected at the party conventions and came as something of a surprise to their party; and the entire campaign was shadowed by World War 2 in Europe and Asia, with both candidates advocating non-intervention. In addition, Wendell Willkie was a former supporter of Roosevelt who, although defeated in the campaign, went on to work closely with Roosevelt afterwards. Willkie was a dark horse candidate who had never held or even run for political office before, and the lead-up to the Republican National Convention included strong runs from candidates including former President Herbert Hoover and Thomas E. Dewey, who would go on to become the Republican candidate in the 1944 election when Roosevelt ran for a fourth term. As a result of Roosevelt’s long turn as President, the United States congress passed the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution in 1947 that limited a President to two terms or ten years in office.

The major issues of the campaign, faithfully documented in this rich set of scrapbooks, revolved around the economic recovery of the country from the Great Depression after the stock market crash of 1929, the possibility of American involvement in World War 2, and the legality or advisability of Roosevelt’s run for a third term. The scrapbooks include news articles describing events of the campaign and election as well as opinions, editorials, and political cartoons on candidates and issues. These materials have not yet been digitized and are very fragile, but they give a window into a political process quite different from today. Come to the Archives to see them, or contact us to find out more!