Recognition & Press





Current – Visiting Scholar, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, reappointed annually.

2018Publication of a retrospective monograph, LIFE’S WORK, A Fifty Year Photographic Chronicle of Working in the U.S.A. by AIHA PRESS, 500 photographs, 250 pages.  The companion exhibit of the same name on view at the AFL-CIO’s Washington, DC headquarters, from September 13th until November 29th, and then at 2018 NCOSH Conference, Baltimore in early December.

A photo on the front cover of Occupational Health and Environmental Health, Recognizing and Preventing Disease and Injury, with 66 Dotter photographs published inside. Edited by Barry Levy, David Wegman, Sherry Baron, and Rosemary Sokas, Oxford University Press, Seventh Edition.

2016 – Received the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization’s Tribute of Inspiration Award, for creating the touring exhibit: BADGES, A Memorial Tribute to Asbestos Workers.

2015 – Received Lifetime Achievement Award in Occupational & Environmental Health from New England College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, and from the Massachusetts Association of Occupational Health Nurses.

2014 – Awarded grants from the Maryland Humanities Foundation and the Migrant Clinicians Network to create the exhibit, WORK. RESPECT. DIGNITY: Shared Images of Maryland’s Eastern Shore Immigrants, presented at the University of Maryland, Salisbury, Downtown Gallery.

2012 – Reprise of THE QUIET SICKNESS, A Photographic Chronicle of Hazardous Work in America, the exhibit presented at the Center for Disease Control, Sencer Museum, Atlanta.

2011 – Received commission to photograph for the book, Maimonides At Work, honoring all levels of staff on the occasion of the Maimonides Medical Center’s 100th Anniversary in Brooklyn, New York.  Commissioned to create 300 large format photographs hung throughout the hospital for this permanently installed exhibit.

2010 – Inducted as Honorary Lifetime Member of the American Industrial Hygiene Association.

2007 – National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC, Dotter coal mining photographs added to the Permanent Collection.

2002 – NEWSEUM Photojournalist of the Month (May), Website Presentation Honoring Earl Dotter’s 9/11 Ground Zero photography.

2001 – Alice Hamilton Award presented by American Public Health Association, commemorates a “Lifetime of Service to Occupational Health & Safety.”

2000 – Recipient of the Josephine Patterson Albright Fellowship in Photojournalism from the Alicia Patterson Foundation to document the hazards of the commercial fishing industry in New England.

1999 – The Washington Post, 9/6/99, Lead Editorial, “Labor Day: Real People,” cites THE QUIET SICKNESS photography exhibit at the U.S. Department of Labor Headquarters, Washington, DC.

1999 – Lexington Herald-Leader, 9/6/99, Full-page photo spread entitled, “Hard, Dirty Work,” featuring poultry, textile and coal industry workers exhibited at the Appalshop Gallery in Whitesburg, Kentucky.

1999 – The Washington Post, 9/3/99 Business Section Feature entitled, “A 25-Year Cross Country Chronicle, Snapshots on the State of Workplace Safety.” The article by Cindy Skrzycki states, “Dotter’s work, representing 25 years of workplace history, shows in black and white the gritty reality of what it is like to work in the closed space of a mine, the devastation of losing a life from work-related injury, and the reduced circumstances of families who lose a breadwinner to a dangerous job.” The article quotes Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman’s observations about THE QUIET SICKNESS exhibit on display at the U.S. Department of Labor Headquarters in Washington, DC.

1998 – Semifinalist, Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for THE QUIET SICKNESS, A Photographic Chronicle of Hazardous Work In America. Published in May 1998 by AIHA Press.

1997 – The Sunday Rutland Herald and the Sunday Times Argus, 10/12/97, Vermont Report.  “In This State” by Will Lindner, “Photographer Aims Lens at Hazards of Working World” covers THE QUIET SICKNESS exhibit on display in Burlington, Vermont as part of the exhibit’s tour of New England sponsored by The Harvard School of Public Health’s Occupational Health Program.

1997 – Finalist, Harry Chapin Media Award, Category: Best Photojournalism, for The Quiet Sickness exhibit, book, and Columbia Journalism Review article.

1988 – Recipient, Leica Medal of Excellence Award, National Capital Region.

1985 – Dotter photographs cited in A World History of Photography, by Naomi Rosenblum, pages 532 & 534, Abbeville Press.

1983 – Eight-page portfolio published in Photo/Revue, edited by Sebastiao Salgado; Paris, France.

1981 – Finalist, W. Eugene Smith Fellowship; Recipient, Creative Artist Program Grant, NY State Council for the Arts; 10-page portfolio in American Photographer magazine with an essay by Walter Rosenblum.

1978 – “The Art Annual Award, Communication Arts,” for Best Black and White Editorial Photography as published in Quest/77 Magazine an article entitled, “Coal, Past and Future Fuel;”  Review, The New York Times Sunday “Photography View” column by Gene Thornton cited the Gallery 1199 coal mining exhibit, “In Our Blood,” as “one of the ten most important photographic events of 1977.”

1976 – Recipient, National Magazine Award for The United Mine Workers Journal in the category of Specialized Journalism, sponsored by Columbia School of Journalism.


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Earl Dotter

Given Earl Dotter’s lifetime commitment to documenting Americans at work, he has been referred to as the “American Worker’s Poet Laureate.”  Dotter follows the humanistic tradition of such great American documentary photographers like Jacob Riis, Lewis Hine, Dorothea Lange, and W. Eugene Smith.  Beginning in the Appalachian coalfields and continuing to the present, he has put a human face on those who labor, often in dangerous and environmentally unhealthy conditions. In 2018, he launched his 50-year retrospective book and related exhibit tour, LIFE’S WORK, A Fifty Year Photographic Chronicle of Working in the U.S.A.

Dotter’s photographic career began in 1968 when he joined VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America). His assignment in East Tennessee first brought him in contact with coal miners.  After VISTA, he remained in the area to photograph the movement to reform the United Mine Workers Union.  When the UMWA election was won by reform candidates in 1972, Dotter was invited to work for the UMWA Journal, with its emphasis on coal mine safety.  At the time, coal mining was the most dangerous job in America, resulting in a coal miner killed every other working day.  Dotter used his camera to record the intimate details of the miner’s daily life – the dangers of underground mining as well as the joys, dignity, and culture that sustained coal mining families.  Lessons learned then still guide him today.

Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, Dotter sought out a wide array of occupational subjects and continued to fulfill his objective of personalizing the worker’s life on the job, at home, and in the community.  In 1996, he began his exhibit tour of THE QUIET SICKNESS: A Photographic Chronicle of Hazardous Work in America, followed by the book of the same name (AIHA PRESS).  In 1999 the Harvard School of Public Health invited Dotter to become a Visiting Scholar in its Occupational and Environmental Health Program, a position he holds to this day.  In 2000 Dotter received an Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellowship to document Commercial Fishing, which had become our nation’s most dangerous occupation, culminating in THE PRICE OF FISH exhibit tour in New England.

After the World Trade Center attack on 9/11, Dotter journeyed to Ground Zero to photograph the First Responders as they worked around the clock to rescue victims and to remove the tragedy-laden wreckage, and to NYC firehouses that were reeling from the loss of 343 of their own.  The resulting exhibit, WHEN DUTY CALLS, A Tribute to 9-11 Emergency Responders, toured throughout the following year.  Accompanied by writer Tennessee Watson, in 2008 Dotter chronicled migrant farm workers hand-harvesting crops in Maine, creating the exhibit THE FARMWORKERS FEED US ALL.

In 2010, Dotter and Denver-based writer and industrial hygienist, Cindy Becnel, collaborated to record the lives of Native American and Canadian First Nation Tribes at work developing sustainable energy alternatives on tribal lands.  The exhibit, HOLDING MOTHER EARTH SACRED, opened at the University of Colorado (Denver) and included showings at the American Public Health Association and the American Industrial Hygiene Association’s annual meetings. A reprise of THE QUIET SICKNESS exhibit appeared at the Centers for Disease Control, David J. Sencer Museum in Atlanta in 2012.

By 2013, Dotter collaborated with award-winning journalist and author Suzanne Gordon to record the day-to-day work experiences of all levels of the healthcare staff at the Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY, creating a 100th-anniversary book.  A permanent exhibit of 300 photos, titled MAIMONIDES AT WORK, was installed throughout the halls of the 700-bed medical center.  In 2014, the Migrant Clinicians Network, with support from the Maryland Humanities Foundation, engaged Dotter to create: WORK. RESPECT. DIGNITY. Shared Images of Maryland’s Eastern Shore Immigrants, acquainting longtime residents with immigrants living and working in the region.  Dotter’s exhibit BADGES: A Memorial Tribute to Asbestos Workers was first shown in 2015 at the Asbestos Disease Awareness Org. meeting in Washington, DC.  The exhibit personalized workers who were harmed from asbestos exposure by using their photo ID badges to link them to the company that employed them.  Updated every year since, the exhibit has toured at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, Harvard’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health in Cincinnati and at the University of Texas at Tyler.

As Earl Dotter marks his fiftieth year photographing occupational and environmental health subjects, fresh opportunities continue keeping him actively engaged as he launches his new comprehensive retrospective book and exhibit tour: LIFE’S WORK, A Fifty Year Photographic Chronicle of Working in the U.S.A. (AIHA PRESS)

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Earl Dotter, Photojournalist 


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Copyright Earl Dotter
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Copyright Earl Dotter