University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

Carolyn Cole Photographic Archive, 1975-2016

Creator Cole, Carolyn
Title: Carolyn Cole photographic archive
Dates: 1975-2016
Identification: camh-arc-004133
Extent: 66 linear feet (extent is approximate)
Language: English
Repository: Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

Biographical / Historical

Carolyn Cole was born on April 24, 1961, in Boulder, Colorado. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in photojournalism, and earned her MA degree in Visual Communication from Ohio University. Cole began her career as a staff photographer with the El Paso Herald-Post in 1986, working for the paper until 1988. She then worked for the San Francisco Examiner from 1988 until 1990, followed by two years working freelance in Mexico City for newspapers including the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit Free Press. In 1992 Cole went to work for The Sacramento Bee and then joined the staff of the Los Angeles Times, with whom she is still employed, in 1994.

In 1994, Cole was recognized by the Los Angeles Times editorial awards for her pictures of the crisis in Haiti. She was recognized again in 1995 for her work in Russia. In 1997, she gained attention for her photographs of dying bank robber Emil Matasareanu, who had been shot after a nationally televised shootout with police. Her photographs not only helped the Times win a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the event, but also served as evidence in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Matasareanu's family. Cole was also named Journalist of the Year by the Times Mirror Corporation in 1997.

Cole worked in Kosovo in 1999. While covering the Elian Gonzalez affair in April 2000, she was arrested on felony charges for "throwing deadly missiles" at police during protests in Miami, Florida. All charges were dropped. She spent two months in Afghanistan working in 2001.

In 2002, Carolyn Cole was photographing the beginnings of the siege of Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, which had been occupied by Palestinian militants. Doubling as a news reporter for the Times, Cole was the only photojournalist in the building itself. Those pictures earned her a nomination for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize. That year she also received the National Press Photographers Association Newspaper Photographer of the Year award.

In 2003, Cole went to Liberia. Rebels were surrounding the capital, Monrovia, demanding the resignation of President Charles Taylor. Her work on this earned her the 2004 Pulitzer Prize. She also won the 2003 George Polk Award for photojournalism. In 2004, Cole was named the NPPA Newspaper Photographer of the Year for a second time, for her work in Liberia and Iraq. She earned the honor of that title again in 2007. She was additionally named Pictures of the Year International Newspaper Photographer by the University of Missouri's Missouri School of Journalism in 2004. Cole has also received the Robert Capa Gold Medal from the Overseas Press Club in both 2003 and 2004, and won two World Press Photo awards in 2004.


Scope and Contents

The Carolyn Cole photographic archive, 1975-2016, contains photographic materials, including prints, negatives, contact sheets, slides, transparencies, and digital record printouts. These materials have been separated into series based on Cole's employment at the time. Folders of material for individual shoots may additionally contain newspaper photo requests or job assignments, Cole's notes, collected printed material, captions, newspaper clippings, and releases signed by subjects. Work and projects for various or unknown publications have been separated into their own sub-series.

Some photographic shoots documented in the collection include: "Third World Street Girls", 1987; "Cadet McKeag: Wentworth Academy's Only Female," 1993; "Haiti: Crisis in the Caribbean", 1994; "Health Crisis in Russia", 1995; Orion - Los Angeles gang neighborhood, 1996; Emil Matasareanu, 1997; North Hollywood shootout, 1998; Kosovo, 1999; Face of Conviction 2000; Afghanistan, 2001; Israel-Gaza conflict, 2002; Siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, 2002; Coverage of the civil conflict in Liberia, 2003; and shoots in Peru, Mexico, and Nicaragua.

The collection further contains paperwork and manuscript material documenting individual shoots and projects, as well as Cole's education, job pursuits, and career. Materials include preparations and submissions for photo contests and competitions; speeches and presentations given; and panels, presentations, and conferences attended by Cole. This series showcases correspondence, working files, and other paper-based materials created and collected by Cole throughout her education and career. Biographical materials including Cole's resumes/CVs, as well as articles written about Cole, and tear sheets and clippings featuring her work, can also be found.

Newspapers, magazines, publications, and printed material are also present in the archive, both featuring Cole's work and collected by Cole in the course of her career. Finally, the archive contains personal items such as family documents, personal letters to and from Carolyn Cole, photos of Carolyn with friends and family, and printed material and ephemera collected by Cole throughout her education and career.


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is stored remotely. Advance notice required for retrieval. Contact repository for retrieval.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection is open for research use. Donor maintains copyright of unpublished materials.

Index Terms


Detailed Description of the Collection

Inventory (click to view PDF)