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Sol Mednick photographs


Held at: Philadelphia History Museum [Contact Us]15 South 7th Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19106

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Philadelphia History Museum. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Solomon "Sol" Mednick (1916-1970) was a photographer active in Philadelphia and New York from the 1940s to the late 1960s. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1916, Mednick was the oldest of three children. His father, Benjamin, started a photography studio in the family's home on N. 31st Street around 1920. In the 1930s, Mednick attended school at the Philadelphia College of Art (now known as University of the Arts) studying under well-known Russian photographer, graphic designer, and eventual art director of Harper's Bazaar, Alexey Brodovitch. After becoming a successful freelance commercial photographer, Mednick took a position teaching photography at his alma mater in 1951. While there, he established the school's photography department (1953), helped to nurture the Philadelphia photographic scene, and maintained his freelance business. In addition, Mednick was a founding member of the Society for Photographic Education.

Mednick explored multiple exposure photography, used photograms for ad campaigns, and enjoyed experimenting with innovative techniques throughout his career. Although he was known for doing commercial work, such as corporate advertisements and covers for Scientific American, Mednick also captured images of Philadelphia, including several photographs of the Mummers over a period of twenty years, in his personal work. Mednick mentored and learned from his younger peers, including Ray K. Metzker (1931-2014), a nationally known photographer, who Mednick hired to teach at the Philadelphia College of Art in 1962. Metzker would go on to become the chair of the Photography and Film program and establish the Sol Mednick Gallery at the Philadelphia College of Art (now known as University of the Arts). In 1945, Mednick married Miriam Freedman. They remained married until his death in 1970.


Finkel, Kenneth. Philadelphia Revisions: The Print Department Collects. Philadelphia, PA: The Library Company of Philadelphia, 1983. Accessed November 21, 2014.

Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Exhibition Explores the Diverse Bodies of Work by Eight Philadelphia Photographers." September 15, 2009. Accessed November 21, 2014.

Sotheby's. "Catalogue Note, Lot 12, Robert Frank." In The Modern Image: Photographs from an Important American Collection. April 5, 2013. Accessed November 21, 2014.

This collection consists of about 250 photographs, photograms, color transparencies, and a few negatives from about 1940 to 1968, taken by Mednick during his career as photographer. Many of the images are from his work as a free-lance commercial photographer and were likely used in catalogs or other types of print advertisements and publications. These images include posed portraits of individuals and groups wearing or using a product and at least a few photographs of animals used by Scientific American. Other images in the collection are fine-art photographs (non-commissioned images) and demonstrate Mednick's interest in exploring various photography techniques. The non-commissioned photographs include: Mednick's self-portraits; images of his wife, Miriam; images of Philadelphia such as the Mummers Parade, firemen, buildings, bridges, streetscapes, a veterans' parade, and the Dock Street Market; and some artistic landscape and scenery images of non-Philadelphia locations. Other images in the collection, which may or may not have been used commercially, are of machinery, textile manufacturing, celebrities, and other subjects. The collection also includes a few tear sheets showing the publication of Mednick's commercial work.

Although most images in the collection were taken by Sol Mednick, there are a few family photographs including at least one of Sol, circa 1920, taken by his father Benjamin Mednick, who owned a photography studio in Philadelphia.

An item-level inventory of this collection is available on site.

Gift of Miriam F. Rothman (Sol Mednick's widow), 1989 (accession 89.56) and 1991 (91.14)

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Philadelphia History Museum directly for more information.

Philadelphia History Museum
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Sarah Leu through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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