From the Cornell Capa papers: Magnum coverage of election season, 1968

In spring of 1968, Magnum photographers began outlining their coverage of the upcoming 1968 election. In this statement of purpose issued by Lee Jones, photographers are assigned to cover the candidates and issues of the upcoming election. Lee states: “ALL OF THE ATTACHED IS FLOUR OUT OF WHICH WE SHOULD BAKE THE CAKE FOR PRESENTATION. OBVIOUSLY, WHEN WE HAVE DECIDED WHAT ROUTE WE WILL TAKE, A MORE FORMAL AND SOMEWHAT LESS REALISTIC HARD SELL MUST BE WHIPPED TOGETHER.”


Three photographers were assigned to President Lyndon Johnson: Cornell Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Burt Glinn. Capa was also detailed to the campaign of then-New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Richard Nixon’s campaign received no Magnum photographers.


On May 13th, 1968, a photograph of Governor Rockefeller was published on the cover of Newsweek. While processing Cornell Capa’s papers, we discovered a copy of Rockefeller’s tentative schedule in Iowa. Capa likely used this schedule to follow and photograph the candidate. Newsweek’s digital archive only begins in 2013, but some shrewd web searching will turn up photographs of the May 13, 1968 cover depicting Rockefeller and his wife, Happy.


Capa’s papers also contained the proposed schedule of eventual Democratic nominee Hubert Humphrey as he traveled around Mississippi and Tennessee.


Capa’s photograph shows Humphrey shaking hands with a young black man; this photo might have been taken during one of Humphrey’s trips to the University of Mississippi, or during an assembly in Jackson, Tennessee detailed in his itinerary from April 24, 1968.

USA. Hubert HUMPHREY campaigning. 1968.


More images Capa made while on assignment covering this campaign can be seen on Magnum’s website:

1 thought on “From the Cornell Capa papers: Magnum coverage of election season, 1968”

  1. I did not meet Cornell until January 2, 1975, when he proclaimed me in a big booming voice “A GIFT FROM GOD!”
    But I was very near him on Wednesday evening, August 28, 1968. When we both realized it years later, he said he wished he could have been with me rather than stuck upstairs in the Conrad Hilton covering Hubert Humphrey for LIFE. It was the infamous Democratic Convention, Humphrey was getting voted in that very night as the nominee, and I was on the street photographing in front of the hotel as the police rioted, we chanted “the whole world is watching,” and the NBC cameras were on it live to the world.

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