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Janet Knott Collection

1974-2019
3 boxes (2.5 linear foot)
Call no.: PH 088

An award-winning photojournalist, Janet Knott was the first women to become a staff photographer at the Boston Globe. Over a 31-year career, she covered a broad range of topics, from local assignments to longer-form photo essays and international coverage, producing iconic images of the space shuttle Challenger disaster, the late 1980s famine in the Sudan, and the violence accompanying the Haitian elections of 1987. She was only the third woman recognized with the Robert Capa Gold Medal and among many other awards, won first place for spot news from the World Press Photography Foundation. After leaving the Globe in 2007, she became Chief of Staff for Boston City Councilor Salvatore La Mattina, representing East Boston and the first district.

The Knott collection includes...

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Background on Janet Knott


An image of: Janet Knott, ca.1990

Janet Knott, ca.1990

An award-winning photojournalist and pioneering woman in the field, Janet Knott was born on October 10, 1952, the eldest of four children of James M. and Betty (Davis) Knott. Raised primarily in Wellesley, Mass., Knott had only a limited exposure to photography as a child, receiving a Brownie camera as a present on her eighth birthday, but she her family was steeped in the values of innovation and ambition. Her father was owner of the Riverdale Mills Corporation, a manufacturer best known for revolutionizing the lobster industry by introducing a welded wire mesh trap.

Graduating from Wellesley High School in 1970, Knott entered Barnard College as an English major without a clear career path in mind. In the summer after her sophomore year, however, she was hired as a counselor at the American Farm School in Thessaloniki, Greece, giving her a taste of a possible future when she was assigned to photograph campers as they helped locals build a road. By the time she graduated from college in 1974, she was determined to find employment as a photographer, though initially she met with little success. Returning to Massachusetts, she settled into her family's summer home in Gloucester, took a summer photography course with Ron Kelleher (a teacher at Rockport High School), and found some a few freelancing jobs with the Gloucester Times and as a weekend photographer at the Beverly Times.

The secretarial skills she had acquired along the way proved useful in helping Knott create her first career break. In July 1975, she landed a part time position at Boston Globe as an editorial assistant for the city desk, and from the beginning, she pursued every opportunity to move onto the photographic staff. When a technician's job in the darkroom opened the following February, she made the plunge and by taking her own photographs on the side, jockeyed her way into a full-time staff position in 1978, becoming the first woman at the Globe in that role.

Over the course of her 31 year career, Knott's work evolved from local assignments to substantial essay work. She began attracting notice for her work during the great blizzard of 1978, when she found herself trapped by the storm at the Globe offices. In the aftermath, she captured images of the devastation wreaked on downtown Boston, Quincy, and Rockport. Hinting at some of the challenges of working as a woman in the field at the time, she later wrote of an incident with the Wellesley Police. Although the press were exempted from the regional travel ban, Knott was pulled over by an officer who refused to accept that she was a photographer, even after she presented her press pass and Globe identification card. Still unconvinced, the officer issued her a citation anyway.

In addition to coverage of local politics, arts, and culture, Knott earned notice for an important series of images documenting the impact of the AIDS crisis in the mid-1980s, and she was on assignment in Florida in January 1986 for the launch of the space shuttle Challenger. Her images of the explosion shortly after liftoff are among her best known and most reproduced images. Increasingly, she began to take assignments in trouble spots around the world, becoming one of the paper's top overseas photographers. For much of each year during the 1990s and early 2000s, she traveled the globe from Mexico to Haiti, the Middle East, and the Sudan, leavening her overseas assignments by spending three months each year with domestic assignments in New England. In addition to the Globe, her work appeared in a range of other venues, from Sports Illustrated to Vanity Fair.

In 1997, Knott was awarded a Knight Fellowship for mid-career photographers and enrolled in the School of Visual Communication at Ohio University to study the impact of new technologies on the newsroom. She was awarded an MA for her thesis Snap, Snap, Click, Click: Newspaper Photography in the Digital Age in 2001. Throughout her career, she received praise from the public and profession for the quality of her work and the sensitivity she brought to a range of subjects. She was the recipient of numerous awards, including first place honors from the Boston Press Photographers Association, second place for feature photography from the UPI/New England division, and honorable mention from the New York Art Directors Club (1985) and the Boston Art Directors Club (1985). Her color work was recognized with a first prize from the National Sunday Magazines Editors Award (1987). Knott's images were included in the National Press Photographers Association Best of Photojournalism annuals for 1983, 1986, 1988, and 1989.

A hallmark of much of Knott's work was a strong social consciousness. Her coverage of the famine in Sudan was singled out with an award for best photojournalism from the World Hunger Media Award (1990) and she received two Clarion Awards from Women in Communications (1988, 1990) for coverage of the Haitian elections and for a study of a woman dying of AIDS, respectively. Perhaps most notably, Knott was awarded first place for spot news by the World Press Photography Foundation in 1986 for her striking images of the space shuttle Challenger disaster, capturing the moment after the vehicle exploded in flight. She was only the third woman to receive the prestigious Robert Capa Gold Medal from the Overseas Press Photographers (1987), recognized for coverage of the electoral violence in Haiti.

Recognizing that the profound changes affecting main stream journalism were taking much of the joy out of her work, Knott decided to leave the Globe in 2007. A few months after leaving the newspaper, a chance meeting with Salvatore La Mattina, City Councilor for the first district in Boston, led her to a second career: a foray into local politics. For the next decade, Knott used her organizational and personal skills as Chief of Staff for La Mattina and for her adopted community in East Boston. La Mattina left office in 2017.

Scope of collection

The Knott collection contains a.

Knott's work with La Mattina is represented primarily by a suite of

Inventory

Series 1. Photographic and personal
1974-2016
Awards: Art Directors Club Merit Award
1986
Box 1: 1
Awards: Boston Press Photographers photo contest
1977-1980
Box 1: 2
Awards: Massachusetts Department of Mental Health Commissioners Recognition Award
2001
Box 1: 3
Awards: Massachusetts Department of Mental Health Distinguished Service Award
2001
Box 2
Awards: Overseas Press Club Robert Capa Gold Medal
1988
Box 1: 4
Awards: Society of Publication Designers Certificate of Merit
1987
Box 1: 5
Awards: Women in Communication Clarion Award
1988
Box 1: 6
Awards: World Press Photo Spot News Award
1987
Box 1: 7
Barnard College: Commencement
1974
Box 1: 8
Biographical
1982-1994
Box 1: 9
Biographical: portfolio personal/professional
ca.1990
Box 1: 10
Correspondence
1977-1984
Box 1: 11
Correspondence
1985-1989
Box 1: 12
Correspondence
1990-1994
Box 1: 13
Correspondence
undated
Box 1: 14
Correspondence: Boston Globe
1978-1984
Box 1: 15
Correspondence: Boston Globe
1985-1994
Box 1: 16
Correspondence: Boston Globe
undated
Box 1: 17
Correspondence: Boston Globe: hiring and promotion
1976-1987
Box 1: 18
Correspondence: Graphis Press Corp.
1986
Box 1: 19
Correspondence: Mentoring
1977-1989
Box 1: 20
Correspondence: Photographers
1986-1989
Box 1: 21
Correspondence: Real Paper
undated
Box 1: 22
Correspondence: Response from public
1977-1984
Box 1: 23
Correspondence: Response from public
1985-1989
Box 1: 24
Correspondence: Response from public
1990-1994
Box 1: 25
Correspondence: Response from public
undated
Box 1: 26
Correspondence: Response from subjects
1977-1984
Box 1: 27
Correspondence: Response from subjects
1985-1994
Box 1: 28
Correspondence: Steele, Mark
undated
Box 1: 29
Correspondence: Updike, John
undated
Box 1: 30
Diplomas: Ohio University (MA)
2001
Box 1: 31
Exhibits
1989
Box 1: 32
Miscellaneous
undated
Box 1: 33
Photo assignments
2005
Box 1: 34
Photographs: Knott, Janet
1987-ca.1994
Box 1: 35
Press passes
1980-2016
Box 3: 1
Aerospace Research Facility Area S4: Visitor's badge
undated
Box 3: 1
Atomic Weapons Permit, Nuclear Regulatory Commission
undated
Box 3: 1
Boston Globe employee badge
1986
Box 3: 1
Democratic National Convention Floor passes
1996
Box 3: 1
Federal identification badge
1980
Box 3: 1
Haiti: Minstere de l'information et de la coordination
1987
Box 3: 1
Haiti: Elections press pass
1987
Box 3: 1
Hillary Clinton campaign: Media pass
2016
Box 3: 1
International Association of Chiefs of Police: Boston convention
2006
Box 3: 1
March on Washington, 25th anniversary
1988
Box 3: 1
March for Women's Equality
1989
Box 3: 1
Massachusetts State House pass: visit of Pres. Paul Kagame
2005
Box 3: 1
Massachusetts: News media photographer pass
2004
Box 3: 1
Massachusetts: News media photographer pass
2006
Box 3: 1
Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference
2006
Box 3: 1
National Organization for Women Rally for Women's Lives
1995
Box 3: 1
National Press Photographers Association: Region 1 Director
1999
Box 3: 1
National Press Photographers Association: Photojournalism into the 21st century: staff card
1996
Box 3: 1
Ohio University name tag
2002
Box 3: 1
Olympic Games (Los Angeles)
1984
Box 3: 1
President of the United State: trip to Boston
1989
Box 3: 1
President of the United State: trip to Manchester, N.H.
1990
Box 3: 1
Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Dedication: Media pass
2008
Box 3: 1
Sudan: press identification card
1988
Box 3: 1
Vice President of the United States trip
1998
Box 3: 1
Vice President of the United States trip
undated
Box 3: 1
Vice President of the United States trip
undated
Box 3: 1
Vice President of the United States trip
undated
Box 3: 1
Vice President of the United States trip
undated
Box 3: 1
Published work
1981-2006
Box 1: 36
Published work (newspapers)
1986-2011
Box 2
Published work: Editor and Publisher
1982
Box 1: 37
Published work: Population: straining the limits
ca.1981
Box 1: 38
Published work: Sudan
1988-1989
Box 1: 39
Wellesley Police Department traffic citation
1978
Box 1: 40
Series 2. Political work
1994-2019
Boston: ephemera
ca.1995-2015
Box 1: 41
Boston Schoolyard Initiative: background information
2014
Box 1: 42
Boston Schoolyard Initiative: Learn, play, grow
2013
RBR
Contents:

Book documenting the Boston Schoolyard Initiative, a public-private partnership operating between 1995 and 2013 that sought to physically transform Boston's schoolyards to create outdoor spaces that could serve at centers for recreation, teaching and learning, and community.

East Boston: ephemera
2012-2015
Box 1: 43
East Boston: politics
2014
Box 1: 44
East Boston: postcards (photocopies)
undated
Box 1: 45
Identification cards
2004-2015
Box 3: 2
Boston: City identification card
undated
Box 3: 2
Boston Civic Summit: Delegate's pass
2008
Box 3: 2
Boston Fashion Week
2015
Box 3: 2
Boston Techjam: identification badge
2015
Box 3: 2
Democratic Governors' Association: Fast pass
2004
Box 3: 2
Democratic Party National Convention: guest pass
2004
Box 3: 2
Hard Rock Cafe 25th Anniversary VIP pass:
2014
Box 3: 2
Massachusetts Democratic Party convention delegate's pass
2010
Box 3: 2
Massachusetts Democratic Party convention delegate's pass
2011
Box 3: 2
Massachusetts Democratic Party convention delegate's pass
2013
Box 3: 2
Massachusetts Democratic Party convention delegate's pass
2014
Box 3: 2
Massachusetts Democratic Party convention guest pass
2009
Box 3: 2
Northeastern University Dukakis Center identification card
undated
Box 3: 2
La Mattina, Salvatore: background information
undated
Box 1: 46
La Mattina, Salvatore: calendar
2008-2013
Box 1: 47
La Mattina, Salvatore: calendar
2015
Box 1: 48
La Mattina, Salvatore: Chief of staff: background information
2008
Box 1: 49
La Mattina, Salvatore: Chief of staff: correspondence
2010-2013
Box 1: 50
La Mattina, Salvatore: Chief of staff: notes
2008 Sept.
Box 1: 51
La Mattina, Salvatore: Chief of staff: notes
2008 Dec.
Box 1: 52
La Mattina, Salvatore: Chief of staff: notes
2009
Box 1: 53
La Mattina, Salvatore: Chief of staff: reference materials
2010-2011
Box 1: 54
La Mattina, Salvatore: "Sal: When all give, all gain" [photo album]
2017
RBR
Contents:

Books of photographs by Janet Knott (published on Shutterfly) commemorating the life and work of Salvatore La Mattina and his impact on his constituents in East Boston.

La Mattina, Salvatore: news clippings
2012
Box 1: 55
La Mattina, Salvatore: news clippings
2013
Box 2
La Mattina, Salvatore: photographs
2014
Box 1: 56
La Mattina, Salvatore: speeches
2017
Box 1: 57
Massachusetts Democratic Party convention
2013
Box 1: 58
Massachusetts Department of Fisheries and Wildlife: Living with wildlife
undated
Box 1: 59
Political ephemera: Arroyo, Felix
ca.2016
Box 1: 60
Political ephemera: Baker, Charles D.
2015-2019
Box 1: 61
Political ephemera: Boston City Council
ca.2011-2016
Box 1: 62
Political ephemera: Boston Mayor
ca.2013
Box 1: 63
Political ephemera: Buttons, etc.
ca.2013-2014
Box 3: 3
Contents:

"Women for Warren" (pinback button for Elizabeth Warren's senatorial campaign); "EthaNOl" (pinback button opposing ethanol transport by rail); American Heart Association Go Red red dress-shaped pinback button).

Also includes a MassDOT DVD with Repot on the safety impacts of ethanol transportation by rail through Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Somerville, and Revere (Mar. 29,. 2013).

Political ephemera: Connolly, John
ca.2010-2016
Box 1: 64
Political ephemera: Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Democrats in 2004
2004
Box 2
Political ephemera: Dukakis, Michael
2008
Box 1: 65
Political ephemera: Flaherty, Michael
ca.2014-2016
Box 1: 66
Political ephemera: La Mattina, Salvatore
2009-2016
Box 1: 67
Political ephemera: La Mattina, Salvatore bumper stickers
undated
Box 2
Political ephemera: Menino, Thomas M.
2009-2016
Box 1: 68
Political ephemera: Other races and issues
2011-2016
Box 1: 69
Political ephemera: Other races and issues
Box 2
Political ephemera: Pressley, Ayanna
2011-2014
Box 1: 70
Political ephemera: Suffolk Downs
2013
Box 1: 71
Political ephemera: Walsh, Martin J.
2009-2014
Box 1: 72
Political ephemera: Walsh, Martin J.
Box 2
Political miscellany
2008-2012
Box 1: 73

Administrative information

Access

The collection is open for research.

Provenance

Gift of Janet Knott, Mar. 2019.

Separated Material

The two books (Lear, Play, Grow (2013) and Sal: When all give, all gain (2017) are shelved with our SCUA's printed materials collections.

Processing Information

Processed by I. Eliot Wentworth, June 2019.

Language:

English

Copyright and Use (More information )

Cite as: Janet Knott Collection (PH 088). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Search terms

Subjects

  • Boston (Mass.)--Politics and government--20th century
  • Boston Globe
  • La Mattina, Salvatore
  • Photojournalists
  • Women photographers

Contributors

  • Knott, Janet [main entry]

Genres and formats

  • Photographs

Link to similar SCUA collections