Szasz, Ferenc M., and Ralph H. Bogardus. "The Camera and the American Social Conscience: The Documentary Photography of Jacob A. Riis." New York History 55.4 (1974). Print.
In this article, Szasz shows that the impact of Jacob Riis in his field can be understood not only by his encouragement to establish better community among the poor but also by his photography. Riis’s contemporaries tend to idealize slum life as “quaint” or “unusual”, which lack social awareness and reveal no sympathy for their subjects. However, Riis transforms photos he takes in tenements into vehicles for social reform. Throughout his lantern slide lecture and books about tenement life conditions, the conscience conveyed raises his compositions to the level of art.
Lamunière, Michelle. 'Sentiment As Moral Motivator: From Jacob Riis's Lantern Slide Presentations To Harvard University's Social Museum'. History of Photography 36.2 (2012): 137-155. Web.
The essay addresses the sentiment is used as an appeal in social reform photography. The sentiment is displayed both in photography of Jacob Riis’s Lantern Slide and Harvard University’s Social Museum. Unlike the Social Museum that seeks to direct improvement of modern social conditions, Jacob Riis evokes fear and pity in his audience for the poor by revealing the horrifying living and working conditions of tenements.
Gandal, Keith. The Virtues Of The Vicious. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. Print.
Gandal reveals that the slum is no longer regarded as the topic of social problem but instead a source of spectacle, a subject for aesthetic and psychological description. The change in middle class’s perception about the urban poor signals the transformation in middle class ethics. Based on Jacob Riis’s How the Other Half Lives, Gandal shows that Jacob Riis challenges traditional morality and invents a spectacular style to propose solutions to urban problems. Riis’s touristic approach romanticizes slum life and implies emerging middle-class unease.
Lane, James B. Jacob A. Riis And The American City. Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1974. Print.
James B. Lane’s biography and an examination of Jacob Riis relate his career to the experience and philosophy of urban reconstruction during the Progressive Era. The portrait of Riis is not merely a typical publicist, and he is also dedicated to settlement work and reconstructions of tenements and park. Contrasted with earlier beliefs holding that the poor are morally guilty because of their condition, Riis believes that only if people work hard can they create better environment to live in. Accordingly, Lane also narrates Riis’s attack on child labor, police corruption and even lack of playground space.
Stange, M. 'Jacob Riis And Urban Visual Culture: The Lantern Slide Exhibition As Entertainment And Ideology'. Journal of Urban History 15.3 (1989): 274-303. Web.
In the article, Stange argues that Jacob Riis as a police reporter uses photography to reveal the socioeconomic conditions in tenements of New York. However, photographic historians start to doubt his motives because the idea of surveillance is throughout Riis’s lecture and writing which depicts the underclass as a group of dangerous people. Also, evocation of spectacle and tourism of slums allows his middle class audience to see where the poor live without being there, assuring the audience’s dominant power.
Yochelson, Bonnie, Jacob A Riis, and Daniel J Czitrom.