Bonney, Thérèse (1894–1978)

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Bonney, Thérèse (1894–1978)

American photographer and war correspondent. Born Mabel Thérèse Bonney in Syracuse, New York,in 1894: died in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, in 1978; daughter of Anthony and Addie Bonney; attended University of California; M.S. in romance languages from Harvard University; prepared for Ph.D. at Columbia University, but completed studies at Sorbonne, Paris, with honors.

Thérèse Bonney originally planned a career as a college professor, but after completing her Ph.D. at the Sorbonne in Paris she set out instead to develop cultural relations between the United States and France. After living in Paris and writing for newspapers and periodicals in England, France, and the U.S., she founded the Bonney Service, the first American illustrated-press service in Europe. Reacting to what she regarded as the static quality of most news photography, her first effort, a behind-the-scenes series of photographs on the Vatican, was published in Life magazine in 1938. A year later, the series was published as the book The Vatican.

In 1939, Bonney's intended photographs of the Olympic games in Finland turned out to be documentation of the outbreak of the Russo-Finnish War. She returned to France in 1940, where she traveled with the Ninth Army to photograph the Battle of the Meuse and the Battle of Bordeaux. Her war photographs were shown at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. They were also presented in a traveling exhibit which toured the U.S.