Capture the Moment: The Pulitzer Prize Photographs
April 3 - June 19, 2005  •  The Haggin Museum
About the Exhibition Events Pulitzer Photos Directions In the News

Here is a small sample of the 128 photographs on display in the exhibition and a brief description of the stories behind them. For the stories behind all the photos in the exhibition, see the updated edition of the exhibition catalogue, Capture the Moment: The Pulitzer Prize Photographs, now on sale in the Museum Store.

1945 Old Glory Goes Up On Mount Suribachi Joe Rosenthal

Old Glory Goes Up on Mount Suribachi
Courtesy of The Associated Press
One of the most famous images in the upcoming Pulitzer exhibition at the Haggin will be the raising of the American flag on Mount Suribachi during World War II. Ironically, the photographer, Joe Rosenthal, had been rejected as a military photographer by the Army and Navy due to impaired eyesight. It was while serving as a combat photographer for the Associated Press that he was sent to the small Pacific island of Iwo Jima.

On February 23, 1945, Rosenthal was only part way up the mountain when the Marines raised a small American flag to celebrate the capture of Mount Suribachi, a volcano on the island’s southern end. By the time he reached the top, they had decided to substitute a larger flag that could be seen all over the island. It was this moment that Rosenthal captured.

“Out of the corner of my eye ... I had seen the men start the flag up. I swung my camera and shot the scene.”

This year marks the 60th anniversary of this photograph that captured a brief moment of glory in one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. Over 6,800 American troops were killed, including three of the marines in the photograph. Rosenthal’s image endures as a memorial to their sacrifice. 

1949 Babe Ruth Retires No. 3 Nathaniel Fein

Babe Ruth Retires No. 3
Courtesy of the Nat Fein Estate
One of the poignant moments featured in the Pulitzer exhibition and described in the catalogue is that of Babe Ruth’s final appearance at Yankee Stadium on June 13, 1948.

The legendary ball player had been diagnosed with cancer in 1946. Two years later he walked slowly onto the field after an exhibition game, weakened by illness and using his bat as a cane. His old teammates stood at attention. The crowd in the packed stands went crazy.

Nat Fein of the New York Herald Tribune took several photos, but wasn’t satisfied. He walked around to the other side.

“I saw Ruth standing there with his uniform, #3, the number that would be retired, and knew that was the shot.”

Two months later Babe Ruth, the “Sultan of Swat,” was dead.

Some Stockton old-timers still remember when Babe Ruth played an exhibition game at Oak Park in 1924 during the prime of his career. This Pulitzer Prize photograph caught the bittersweet finale of that remarkable career.

1958 Faith And Confidence William C. Beall

Faith and Confidence
Courtesy of Scripps Howard News Service
The Pulitzer catalogue notes that William C. Beall, like Joe Rosenthal, was a combat photographer during World War II. Yet it was years later that he won the Pulitzer Prize for a photograph entirely different from the one of the flag raised on Iwo Jima.

While working for the Washington Daily News, William Beall was assigned to cover the Chinese Merchants Association parade on September 10, 1957. It hardly seemed like the kind of event that would produce the most-applauded photograph ever to appear in the Washington Daily News.

While keeping his eye on the parade, Beall saw a small boy step into the street, attracted by a dancing Chinese lion. A tall young policeman stepped in front of the boy, cautioning him to step back from the busy street.

According to Beall, “I suddenly saw the picture, turned and clicked.” The result was a moment of childhood innocence frozen in time.

Notes from Denny Beall:

One bit of info was that Bill Beall was on Iwo Jima at the time the famous flag raising photo was taken and was in the same marine photography outfit as Joe Rosenthal, he just happened to go to the other side of the island that day.

One thing often missed was that the young spit & polish policeman went on to become the Chief of Police of Washington DC, Maurice Cullinane.

There is also a statue in front of a courthouse, in Jonesboro, Georgia, honoring policeman that is taken from the photo.

1964 Jack Ruby Shoots Lee Harvey Oswald Robert H. Jackson

Jack Ruby Shoots Lee Harvey Oswald
Courtesy of Robert H. Jackson
The dramatic story of Robert Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize photograph of Jack Ruby killing Lee Harvey Oswald is recounted in both the Pulitzer catalogue and the video. The tragic events surrounding the death of President John Kennedy in Dallas happened early in Jackson’s career as a staff photographer for the Dallas Times Herald.

Snapping photos during Kennedy’s motorcade on November 22, 1963, Jackson stopped to change film and in that moment heard the shot that killed Kennedy. Continuing to pursue the story, he arrived at Dallas police headquarters for the transfer of suspect Lee Harvey Oswald to the county jail on November 24.

When they brought Oswald out, Jackson raised his camera as Jack Ruby stepped in front of him. He described the moment: “My first reaction was, ‘This guy’s getting in my way.’ Ruby took two steps and fired—and I guess I fired about the same time.”

It is a photo that recalls the turmoil and disbelief that engulfed the entire nation as events spiraled out of control following President Kennedy’s assassination. 

1993 Olympics In Barcelona Ken Geiger and William Snyder

Olympics In Barcelona
Courtesy of Ken Geiger, William Snyder,
and The Dallas Morning News
The Pulitzer exhibition and catalogue cover moments of triumph as well as tragedy. Among the 600 photojournalists at the Olympic Games in Barcelona in July 1992 were Ken Geiger and William Snyder of The Dallas Morning News. One of their goals was to capture what it felt like to be a winner at these competitive international games.

Geiger covered track and field events. Having just finished photographing the winning U.S. women’s team, he noticed the Nigerian women watching the scoreboard.

“When it became official that they had third place, they broke into celebration. I had to change cameras to one with a shorter lens. Then took the photo.”

This was one of a group of color images that won Geiger and Snyder the 1993 Pulitzer Prize award for Spot News.

2000 Columbine Rocky Mountain News staff

Old Glory Goes Up on Mount Suribachi
Courtesy of Rocky Mountain News
The story of the terrible shootings at Columbine High School is one of the recent events highlighted in the Pulitzer exhibition and catalogue. On April 20, 1999, the town of Littleton, Colorado seemed an unlikely place for a tragedy that would leave twelve high school students and a teacher dead at the hands of two of their classmates.

When word of the shooting reached the Rocky Mountain News, photographer George Kochaniec, Jr. rushed to Columbine High School. There he found “a scene that was bleeding...TV reporters crying...scary. It will never go away.”

Kochaniec positioned himself away from the immediate chaos and set up his long lens. He took several close-up shots, including this one that caught the deep anguish of the students who had fled the high school. This color photo is one of a portfolio of shots that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2000 for documenting the events that thrust this community into the national spotlight.

Main About the Exhibition Events Directions In the News
This exhibition is made possible through the generosity of:
Bank of Stockton The Record