She was born in Brooklyn in 1911. By the age of twenty she had earned a Ph.D degree from the University of Cologne: in German Philosophy, in Modern English Literature and in Art History. The headlines sang “attractive, young Brooklyn girl — the youngest Ph.D. in the world.” Her 1932 dissertation was a feminist interpretation on a little-known British author who she became friendly with named Virginia Woolf. This was a feminist interpretation of Woolf decades before anybody else approached or even thought of the idea.
From 1932 she worked for the United States Government and in journalism for the The New York Post, The New York Herald, Life Magazine and Hadassah Magazine. During this time she traveled extensively in Nazi Germany and Europe, Alaska and Soviet Siberia. In 1944, she took on a special mission: secretly escorting a group of 1,000 Jewish refugees from Italy to America.
I am genuinely flabbergasted by her career of more than seven decades and her physical and intellectual love of adventure. Postwar she covered the Nurenberg war-crime trials and the struggles in a war-torn Palestine. She was the only American journalist allowed to accompany the Jewish refugees back to Germany on board the ship Exodus 1947. It was here she captured her famous shot of the refugees on the Exodus raising the Union Jack on which they had painted a Swastika.
Ruth Gruber is a journalist, photographer, writer, humanitarian and a former United States government official. In 2010 a documentary film was made about her called Ahead of Time.
One of the highlights in the ICP library’s audio-visual holdings:
Creative Insights and Inspiration : Pioneer Women in Photography/ A panel discussion with Ruth Gruber, Rebecca Lepkoff, Erika Stone, Nancy Rudolph.
Panel discussion “Creative Insights and Inspiration : Pioneer Women in Photography” held at the Pratt Institute (Manhattan campus) on Mar.1 2007, 6.15-9pm. DVD of the event [2hrs and 45 mins]. TR895.4 .P76 2007
Cornell Capa Award winner 2011: Ruth Gruber
27th Annual Infinity Awards
Tuesday May 10, 2011 – Pier 60, New York City
Congratulations to the following artists…
Lifetime Achievement: Elliott Erwitt
ICP Trustees Award: The Durst Family
Young Photographer: Peter van Agtmael
Writing: Gerry Badger, The Pleasures of Good Photographs
Publication: Alec Soth, From Here to There: Alec Soth’s America
Art: Abelardo Morell
Photojournalism: Adrees Latif
Applied/Fashion/Advertising Photography: Viviane Sassen