University of Chicago Library

Guide to the Charles A. Bill Collection of Yousuf Karsh. Photographs 1941-1960

© 2017 University of Chicago Library

Descriptive Summary


Bill, Charles A. Collection of Yousuf Karsh. Photographs




0.25 linear feet (1 box)


Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.


This collection contains photographs by Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002), collected by Charles Anton Bill. Yousuf Karsh, a Turkish and Canadian photographer, is best known for his portrait photographs of significant cultural and political figures. This collection contains Karsh's silver gelatin prints of Winston Churchill, Pope John XXIII, and John F. Kennedy. Throughout his career, Karsh was celebrated for his dramatic use of lighting to portray the likeness of his subjects. The three images in the collection date from 1941 to 1960.

Information on Use


The collection is open for research.


When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Bill, Charles A. Collection of Yousuf Karsh. Photographs, [Box #, Folder #], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

Biographical Note

Charles Anton Bill (Karl Anton Bill) was born to Anton Henry Bill and Lena Petersick in Chicago on September 6, 1905. He died in Chicago in 1981.

Yousuf Karsh was born in 1908 in Turkish Armenia, what was then part of the Ottoman Empire. In 1924, he immigrated to Canada, where he began to practice photography in his uncle's studio (1926-1928). In 1928, Karsh moved to Boston and formally learned a number of photographic techniques under the guidance of John H. Garo. In 1931, Yousuf Karsh opened his first independent studio in Ottawa, Canada. Saturday Night, an illustrated periodical, first published his photographs in the 1930s. As his local reputation grew, he was asked to photograph Winston Churchill during the prime minister's visit to Ottawa in 1941. This photographic session and the print included in this collection led Yousuf Karsh to international fame. He continued to photograph significant world leaders and cultural figures. Throughout his career, Karsh was celebrated for his dramatic use of lighting to portray the likeness of his subjects. He won many awards, including the Master of Photography Award from the International Center for Photography, and the Medal of Service and the Centennial Medal of the Order of Canada. Karsh died in 2002 in Boston.

Scope Note

The Charles A. Bill collection of Yousuf Karsh photographs contains three black-and-white, gelatin silver prints of important world leaders. These images date from 1941 to 1960. The print of Winston Churchill is from an iconic photoshoot that launched Karsh's career. Pope John XXIII's portrait dates to one of four sittings he had with Karsh's studio in 1959. John F. Kennedy's photograph was taken during his presidential campaign in Rhode Island. Upon Kennedy's death in 1963, Life Magazine ran a colorized print from this sitting to celebrate the leader.

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Subject Headings


Box 1

Sir Winston Churchill, 1941

Box 1

Pope John XXIII, 1959

Box 1

John F. Kennedy, 1960