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Bernie Boston collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RITArt-0110

Scope and Contents

The collection in arranged into six series, listed and described below.

Series I: Unmounted 8x10” Prints
The unmounted 8x10” black & white silver gelatin prints in the collection are prints taken by Boston for the Los Angeles Times, and are mostly captioned while some are uncaptioned. The prints range from 1981 to circa 1992. A bulk of the prints pertain to the Iran-Contra Agreement. Other 8x10” prints involve the Melinda Darnell series, a chronicle of a fifteen-year-old girl’s final days with cancer. The “SSDD” series contains images of DC life from January to August in 1987. Other unmounted prints are personal and miscellaneous, including portraits of Bernie Boston.
Series II: Washington Star & LA Times Negatives
The collection of mostly 35mm negatives span the years of circa 1951 to 1993. Negatives from roughly 1968 to 1981 chronicle his time at the Washington Star. Shooting almost daily, the negatives capture not only press conferences and federal events but daily life, events, and crime in Washington, DC and the surrounding area, notably Alexandria, McLean, and Fairfax. Major events include the D.C. Riots, Peace March, and Reagan’s presidency. After 1981, his negatives correspond to events and assignments under the Los Angeles Times but still pertain to the same subject matter of Capitol news and events. The collection is mostly 35mm negatives, in both black and white and later, color negative, but does include some 120 black and white negative and color negative, and 35mm and 120 unmounted color slide (transparency).
Series III: Slides
Four books of mounted color slides, mostly 35mm but some 120. Some slides chronicle personal trips taken by Boston, such as to Aruba or Hearst Castle, while others are reprints of political photographs and some of his more prominent images.
Series IV: Matted Prints
Nine boxes of matted silver gelatin prints, ranging from political to fine art in content. All believed to be published prints.
Series V: RIT & Personal
The collection contains two binders of material presumably from the photography classes Boston attended at RIT, as well as a Gamma Phi Fraternity pledge manual. They include curriculum and graded assignments. There are also the original books that Boston kept his 4x5s that he produced in the classes. The early 35mm and 120 negatives, from 1951 to 1955, are likely from Boston’s time at Rochester Institute of Technology. Images include college life, including fraternity activities from Gamma Phi, fencing team, and Harvest Moon dance. Many of the 4x5 negatives are still life, likely from RIT photo class assignments. Names related to RIT: Phyllis Gardner, Ken Dewhirst, Rod Curtis, June Johnson, Bill Plunkett, Art Borock, Harold Florescue, Joan Fogarty, Delta Lambda Epsilon, Gamma Phi. Personal names: Peggy Peasley Boston, Dorothy Smith. Noreen Boston.
Series VI: Miscellany
Includes digital reprints and CDs, a glass plate negative, articles both about Boston and featuring his images, correspondence regarding the 1993 Nikon Project, and any original notes found with the material.


  • Creation: 1950-2006


Biographical Information on Bernie Boston

"Bernie Boston was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in McLean, Virginia. During his time in high school he was a photographer for the newspaper and yearbook. Boston graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1955. After his time at R.I.T., Boston studied at the School of Aviation Medicine in the U.S. Air Force. He served in the Army for two years while in Germany practicing radiology “in a neurosurgical unit.” In 1958, he left the Army and returned to Washington, working in custom photofinishing.[2] He started his news photography career in Dayton, Ohio. He moved back to Washington to work at the Star and was director of photography when the newspaper folded in 1981. He then was hired by The Los Angeles Times to establish a photo operation in the nation's capital. During his career he covered every president from Harry S. Truman to Bill Clinton. On October 22, 1967 he photographed his most famous picture, "Flower Power", which featured a Vietnam War protester inserting flowers into National Guardsmen's rifle barrels.[3] He was also a Pulitzer Prize finalist for a 1987 photograph of Coretta Scott King unveiling a bust of her late husband, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., in the U.S. Capitol."

From, accessed 25 August 2016.

While attending Rochester Institute of Technology from 1952-1955, Boston was Student Council president, co-captain of the fencing team, Vice President of the Delta Lambda Epsilon fraternity, and a member of Gamma Phi and the Camera Club. He received an A.A.S. in the Department of Photography.


25 Linear Feet




The Bernie Boston collection contains photographic negatives, mounted slides and silver gelatin prints from c. 1968 to c. 1995, from the career and personal life of Bernard Boston. The collection chronicles his time at Rochester Institute of Technology, where he studied photography, up through his career in Washington, DC, and his personal life. In addition to prints used for newspaper publication, there are fine matted prints.

Finding aid in process

This finding aid is currently in process. If you have inquiries about the material in the collection, please contact the RIT Archives.

Bernie Boston collection
In Progress
RIT Art Collection
Ella von Holtum
6 February 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the RIT Archives Repository

Rochester NY 14623 USA