CHIM Archive

Washington, DC
United States

Brief History of the CHIM Archive

The shock of David Seymour's (1911-1956) death in 1956 during the Suez Crisis, fell heavily on his family, especially on his beloved older sister, Eileen Shneiderman (1908-2004). Their relationships was strong and loving, from their early days through their professional lives. She is referred to as Hala, an affectionate short version of her Polish name, Halina. David Seymour is referred to as Davidek, Didek, Dik, and CHIM. Eileen/Hala collaborated closely as researcher and editor for her husband, the internationally respected journalist Samuel L. Shneiderman (1906-1990).

The three of them had worked together and produced a book on the Spanish Civil War in 1938 that included 10 of CHIM's photos. After World War II, as CHIM's reputation and obligations grew, their occasional meetings between photo assignments were eagerly cherished by both of them.

When CHIM was killed, it was devastating for Eileen. She collected his materials from the Magnum offices and CHIM's apartment in Rome. Over the years she carefully organized the letters and documents into a 4-inch high box with separators for each category and her distinctive handwriting can be seen on various folders and documents. In addition to letters from and to CHIM, there were a large number of condolence letters received after CHIM's death, papers from the legal proceedings to recover insurance payments, and letters about CHIM exhibits and books. This CHIM Archive includes 680 letters and documents, spanning the period from 1931 to 1961. Most are in English, but some are also in French, Polish and Spanish.

As Eileen Shneiderman grew older she transferred vintage CHIM photos, negatives, books, documentary materials, and the CHIM Archive to her son Ben Shneiderman (1947- ) who became the executor for the CHIM estate, in cooperation with his older sister Helen Sarid (1937- ). Ben Shneiderman lives in Washington, DC and his sister in Ramat Aviv, Israel. During an apartment move in 2008, Ben Shneiderman reorganized the CHIM materials and came across the forgotten CHIM Archive box. Many of the reorganized materials were donated to the International Center of Photography in New York, where the largest collection of CHIM vintage prints and tearsheets are housed. ICP maintains an online exhibit about CHIM and a biography.

The CHIM Archive was of strong interest to CHIM biographer, Carole Naggar, who helped locate someone at Magnum Photos to scan the letters and documents into digital form. Helen Sarid worked diligently in collaboration with Ben Shneiderman to reorganize the documents into meaningful chronological categories and wrote descriptions for each document.

Special thanks are in order to Mark Levitch, who painstakingly added invaluable information, suggestions, and time consuming editing. Mark Levitch works in the Department of Photographs at the U.S. National Gallery of Art, located in Washington, DC. He is preparing a web tour of David Seymour's work, tied to the vintage and modern prints now in the collection of The National Gallery of Art.

For further information on CHIM's life, books about CHIM, exhibits, longer texts about CHIM by Carole Naggar, and photos from the CHIM Portfolio see the website which has been maintained by Helen’s son Illy Sarid.


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