John Penley Photographs
The images in this online exhibit have been drawn from the John Penley Photographs Collection at New York University’s Tamiment Library.

John Penley is a photographer and grassroots political activist associated with the squatters' rights movement and housing protests of the 1980s and 1990s in New York City's East Village and Lower East Side. He began photographing as part of an effort to document the demonstrations, protests, and other political actions in which he took part, and in the process became a photo-journalist. Hundreds of Penley’s photographs have appeared in in publications including the New York Daily News, the New York Post, the New York Times, New York and Long Island Newsday, New York Magazine, The Villager, High Times Magazine, The Guardian, Art In America, WW 3 Illustrated, The Shadow, the East Village Eye, and many small political publications. They have also been distributed through press services such as United Press International and the Associated Press.

Beginning in the mid-1990s, Penley spent a decade covering the New York’s Lower East Side as a beat photographer for the New York Times, documenting protests and gentrification in the neighborhood. His images also record protests by AIDS activists, as well as artist and writer residents of the Lower East Side such as Allen Ginsburg, William Burroughs, Keith Haring, and Karen Finley. Other notables for whom there are images in the collection include Martin Sheen, Philip Berrigan, Timothy Leary, and Ramsey Clark. Penley also documented his travels to Mexico and to Nicaragua (the latter during the conflict between the Sandinista government and the "contras") during the 1980s.

The John Penley Photographs Collection at the Tamiment Library comprises thousands of images (mainly color slides). Mr. Penley owns the copyright to the images, which will eventually be transferred to New York University.

The Tamiment Library is a special collection that focuses on the history of the Left and labor.

Visit our website for additional information on the library's collections and services:

We recommend viewing the exhibit as a slide show by clicking on the link on the top right of the images.

Please note that these images are provided for reference purposes only. Permission to publish materials must be obtained in writing from the Director of the Tamiment Library / Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, New York University, 70 Washington Square South, New York, N.Y. 10012.

For more information, please contact us by phone 212-998-2630 or e-mail
103 photos · 9,631 views