Toni Frissell (b.1907; d.1988)

300px-Toni_FrissellToni Frissell was a photojournalist and fashion photographer who was also staff photographer for Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Sports Illustrated. She was author or several photography illustrated books, ranging from A Child’s Garden of Verses (1944) to The King Ranch, 1939-1944 (1975). Probably best known for her pioneering fashion photography and ‘informal portraits of the famous and powerful in the United States and Europe, including Winston Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, and John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy. She is noted for taking fashion photography out of the studio into the outdoors, thus placing an accent on the active woman. She is also known for the imaginative angles, both physical and metaphorical, from which she covered her subjects’. Frissell’s chief interests as subjects were children, fashion, families, leisure activities such as eating and drinking, members of American and British upper classes, well-known personalities and sports. A large collection of Toni Frissell’s work is held at the Prints and Photographs Division at the Library of Congress. This includes a substantial portion of her documentary work of Second World War military and civilian activities, both in the United States and abroad, including some time spent in Britain documenting the war. She focused particularly on women’s contributions during the war, including Red Cross activities and the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps. She documented ‘women from all walks of life and in all situations, sometimes using them to comment on the human condition’.

Frissell volunteered for the American Red Cross in 1941, because she had become ‘”so frustrated with fashions that I wanted to prove to myself that I could do a real reporting job”.’ Well connected with high-profile society matrons, Frissell energetically pursued wartime assignments at home and abroad. Through her work, Frissell aimed to ‘counter negative public perception of women in uniform’, and her images of elite African American fighter pilots ‘were intended to encourage positive public attitudes about the fitness of blacks to handle demanding military jobs’.

Stafford, S. Frissell, Toni Frissell: Photographs: 1933-1967, 1994

Information collated from: Library of Congress, ‘Toni Frissell Collection: Prints and Photographs Division’,, accessed October 10 2003; Library of Congress, ‘89709883’,, accessed October 3 2003; Library of Congress, ‘Toni Frissell – Women Come to the Front (Library of Congress Exhibition)’,, accessed October 3 2003

Featured Image: Wikipedia

By Second World War Posters

Mass Communications Academic, @MMUBS. British Home Front Propaganda posters as researched for a PhD completed 2004. In 1997, unwittingly wrote the first history of the Keep Calm and Carry On poster, which she now follows with interest.

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