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The Photo Exhibition


George Harvan is a major American photographer of the second half of the twentieth century. He is generally acknowledged to be the premier documentary photographer of the last generation of underground miners in the anthracite region of northeastern Pennsylvania. He explored just as perceptively other scenes and peoples in a career spanning more than half a century.

There is good reason for mounting the online retrospective assembled here. George Harvan currently enjoys an enviable local reputation. In the past twenty years his work has been exhibited frequently in Pennsylvania, and numerous photographs have appeared in general and specialized magazines. His mining photographs have enjoyed notable and well-deserved attention—the Lehigh University Art Gallery in South Bethlehem is home to a major collection of his mining photographs. However, there has never been a major exhibition presenting the entire range of his photographic work over his fifty-year career. His photographs of the Amish and Pennsylvania country auctions have typically appeared singly. More than half of the almost 280 photographs assembled for this online exhibition have never been published or appeared in a public showing.

One can only fully evaluate George Harvan's work by placing individual photos and groups of photos within the broader context of his entire body of work. We hope that this major exhibition of his work, coupled with his oral history, and our historical essay, will introduce George Harvan and his work to a broader audience and contribute to a growing awareness of his significance in the evolving history of documentary photography in the United States.

Many of the exhibits below contain audio clips from interviews with George Harvan. If audio controls appear on the bottom left of the exhibition window, click on the triangle at the left to play the audio clip, and the square to stop playing the clip. The larger purple triangles permit you to independently navigate through the photographs.

The audio clips that accompany the photo exhibits were prepared by Jeff Donahue and the frames set for displaying audio and photographs was prepared by John Hagan.

Photo Exhibit Contents

Japan, 1946-1947        

Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company, 1949-1955

Amish and Country Auctions, late 1950s-1960s    

Lanscoal, 1960-1972        

After the Fire, late 1950s-late 1960s

New York City, early 1960s        

Mine Disasters, 1959-1977        

Bethlehem Steel, 1960s-1970s

Molly Maguires, 1967        

Strip Photographs, 1974

Gettysburg, 1970s        

Centralia, 1980s

Mannequin, mid-1980s      

Anthracite Breakers, 1990s        

Carbon County Jail, 1995

Circular Prints, Eckley Miners Village, 1995

When the Mines Closed—Portraits, 1995-1996

Polaroids, 1996        

Pinhole Photographs, 1998-1999        

A George Harvan Retrospective, 1946-2000      


Harvan Home
Photo Exhibit
Oral History
Historical Essay

Miner's Son, Miners' Photographer: The Life and Work of George Harvan
Copyright © 2000, 2001 by The Journal for MultiMedia History