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Joseph Costa Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: KBP
Date: 26 Feb 1979

Biographical History

Joseph Costa was a veteran newspaper photographer whose career spanned 60 years. For nearly 44 years he was photographer, chief photographer, or photo supervisor on the New York Morning World, New York Morning News, the New York Daily News, the New York Daily Mirror, and King Features Syndicate. Until 1985, he taught photojournalism at Ball State University, which awarded him an honorary degree when he retired.

One of Mr. Costa's main interests was freedom of Information. To make courtroom photography possible, he worked on a technical education program for photographers, demonstrations before lawyers and judges, and a respectable and responsible image for the press photographer. He is frequently introduced before his articles as "Mr. Press Photography." In one of his articles on freedom of the press, he states:

The proper dissemination of news by a free press is not accomplished solely by the printed word. There is a visual record, too, that must be transmitted to do the complete job. The object of this complete job, of course, is the informed public on which our democracy stands.

He was a founder, first president, and chairman of the board of the National Press Photographers Association and executive editor or the official NPPA magazine, National Press Photographer, from 1946 to 1966. The NPPA's Joseph Costa Award and its Joseph Costa Award for Courtroom Photography are named in his honor.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Joseph Costa Papers consists primarily of material relating to the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), and reflects Costa's intense dedication to advancing freedom of information and freedom of the press, particularly in the courtroom. Subject files is divided into three subseries: general business topics, National Press Photographers Association, and personal material. The NPPA material covers the full range of the organization's operations, including correspondence, conventions, publicity, membership, awards, insurance, and more. Photographs contains business, NPPA, and personal. Published material contains articles about Costa, clippings, page proofs, a few photographs by Costa, pamphlets and other printed material. Writings comprises books, articles, speeches, and approximately twenty years' worth of the NPPA's trade magazine, National Press Photographer, during Costa's tenure as editor. Audio-visual material contains a filmstrip on Famous Photographers School and six items related to the NPPA in a variety of formats (newsreels, movies and tapes).

Arrangement of the Collection

Folders are arranged alphabetically within series and subseries.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Ahlhauser, John W.
Bennet, James.
Berman, Morris S. (Morris Stanley)
Costa, Joseph.
Faber, John, 1918-1993.
Witman, Arthur, 1902-1991.

Corporate Bodies

American Judicature Society.
American Medical Association.
American Newspaper Publishers Association.
American Press Institute.
American Red Cross.
American Society of Magazine Photographers.
American Society of Newspaper Editors.
American Standards Association.
Associated Press.
Cigar Institute of America.
Columbia Broadcasting System, inc.
Eastman Kodak Company.
Famous Photographers School.
King Features Syndicate.
National Press Photographers Association (U.S.)
Trans World Airlines.

Associated Titles

National press photographer.


Courtroom art.
Crime and the press.
Free press and fair trial.
Freedom of information.
Freedom of the press.
Journalism, Pictorial.
Newspaper court reporting.
Photographers -- United States.
Photojournalism -- United States.
Photojournalists, Education.
Television broadcasting of court proceedings -- United States.

Genres and Forms

Annual reports.
Clippings (information artifacts)
Financial records.
Negatives (photographs)
Receipts (financial records)
Slides (photographs)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Joseph Costa Papers
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Joseph Costa, 1967-1985.

Table of Contents

Subject files


Published material