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Oceana Publications

  • Oceana Publications Inc was a publishing house specialising in law and civil rights founded by the British émigré Philip F. Cohen (1911–1998) in 1945.
  • Name:
    Oceana Publications
  • Kind of Organisation:
    Publishing House
  • Introduction:

    Oceana Publications Inc was a publishing house specialising in law and civil rights founded by the British émigré Philip F. Cohen (1911–1998) in 1945.

    Word Count: 22

  • Content:

    In 1927 Philip Cohen emigrated to New York to start a job as a clerk in the law school library at Columbia University, where his career in law began. During the late 1920s and 1930s he held a tenure at Columbia University law library, where he developed an interest in law and civil rights. From 1941 to 1945 he served with a “counterintelligence unit of the United States Army Air Forces in the European Theater“ (Steinhauer 1998). In 1945 Cohen founded Oceana Publications Inc. at 500 5th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, across from the Public Library on 42nd Street, in the media and press district, where also other institutions founded by émigrés were located such as the photo laboratories Leco and Pavelle as well as photo agencies as Black Star and Rapho Guillemette. During the 1950s he "compiled reference pamphlets on marriage and divorce and sold them for 50 cents each at the library. This modest publishing venture would eventually lead to the founding of the Legal Almanac Series, which still exists“ (Steinhauer 1998). The pamphlets, and his legal advice service, were advertised in the Daily News newspaper and other printed media.

    Oceana Publications found a niche in the publishing market, creating major volumes on subjects ranging from public international law to international, comparative, transnational, and constitutional law, as well as legal bibliography (Cohen 1992, 114). Besides such popular topics as marriage, divorce and motor vehicle rules and regulations, Oceana also covered naturalisation and emigration/immigration issues. In 1953 How to Become a Citizen of the United States by Margaret Esther Hall (1953) and Immigration Laws of the United States by Carol McCormick Croswell were published, providing a guide for U.S. emigrants in the post-war period.

    Interestingly, in 1952, the photobook Suffer Little Children by the émigré photographer Marion Palfi was published with Oceana Publications. It is the only photobook to be found in the publishing history of Oceana. Funded by a Rosenwald Fellowship grant, which she received in 1946, Palfi spent two years travelling across the U.S. recording instances of child neglect and juvenile delinquency. Her resulting Children in America exhibition in January 1949 at the Public Library travelled throughout the U.S. over the following three years. In Suffer Little Children Palfi focused on the diversity of American society rather than isolating one ethnic group, portraying poverty as a destructive force affecting African-Americans, Asian-Americans, whites and Latinos alike. A review of the book by Eleanor Roosevelt in December 1952 appeared in a number of newspapers across the U.S.: “This is a book that nearly all of us in the United States should look at with great care. There is some text in it, but the pictures are what will really remain with you. They are completely unforgettable. The reason none of us can fail to look at this book with care lies in the fact that these children are our future citizens, and we must know how they are growing up and what are their opportunities.” (Roosevelt 1952, 20)

    Oceana Publications changed address on several occasions, moving between Midtown Manhattan and Chelsea. In the late 1950s it was located right across the street from the Schocken publishing house. In 1962 it moved to bigger headquarters in Dobbs Ferry and opened branches in Lagos, Nigeria, and in Dusseldorf, Germany, to cover the European continent.

    Word Count: 540

  • Known addresses in Metromod cities:

    500 5th Avenue, Midtown Manhattan, New York City (1945–12.1947); 115 West 42nd Street, Midtown Manhattan, New York City (01.1948–03.1948); 461 West 18th Street, Chelsea, New York City (04.1948–1950); 43 West 16th Street, Chelsea, New York City (1951–1957); 80 Fourth Avenue, Midtown Manhattan, New York City (1958–1961); 40 Cedar Street, Dobbs Ferry, New York City (1962–?).

  • Signature Image:
    Logo and imprint of Oceana Publications Inc.
  • Media:
    Cover of Immigration Laws of the United States by Carol McCormick Croswell (Oceana Publications, 1953).
    Cover of How to become a citizen of the United States by Margaret Esther Hall (Oceana Publications, 1953).
    Cover of Suffer Little Children by Marion Palfi (Oceana Publications, 1952).
    Review of Marion Palfi's Suffer Little Children by Eleanor Roosevelt published in Des Moines Tribune, 10 December 1952, p. 20.
  • Bibliography (selected):

    Cohen, Philip F. “Oceana Publications.” Legal Reference Services Quarterly, vol. 11, no. 3–4, 1992, pp. 113–120. HeinOnline. Accessed 19 February 2021.

    Roosevelt, Eleanor. “Book review.” Des Moines Tribune, 10 December 1952, p. 20.

    Steinhauer, Jennifer. “Philip F. Cohen, 87, Founder of Legal Publishing Company.” The New York Times, 30 September 1998, p. 8. Accessed 16 March 2021.

    Sorgenfrei, Robert and David Peters. Marion Palfi Archive (Guide Series, no. 10). Center for Creative Photography. University of Arizona, 1985.

    Word Count: 60

  • Archives and Sources:

    Word Count: 15

  • Author:
    Helene Roth
  • Date of Founding:
  • Participants (selection):

    Marion Palfi

  • Metropolis:
    New York
  • Entry in process:
  • Helene Roth. "Oceana Publications." METROMOD Archive, 2021,, last modified: 15-06-2021.
  • Marion Palfi
    New York

    Marion Palfi was a German émigré photographer who lived in New York from the 1940s to the 1960s. Her photographic engagement in social and political topics made her name for her use of the camera to draw attention to social injustices.

    Word Count: 41

    Manhattan Magic. A collection of eighty-five photographs
    New York

    Manhattan Magic is a photobook which was published in 1937 by the German émigré photographer Mario Bucovich in New York City.

    Word Count: 20

    Chinatown U.S.A.
    New York

    Chinatown U.S.A. is a photobook published by the German émigré photographer Elizabeth Coleman in 1946 focusing on American-Chinese communities in New York and San Francisco.

    Word Count: 26

    5th Avenue
    New York

    5th Avenue was the first photobook by Fred Stein and was created in 1947 with the publishing house Pantheon Books.

    Word Count: 19

    J.J. Augustin Incorporated Publisher
    Publishing House
    New York

    J.J. Augustin was a German publishing house in Glückstadt with a long history, going back to 1632. In 1936 the American branch opened in New York with a large artistic and cultural focus.

    Word Count: 33

    Schocken Books
    Publishing House
    New York

    Schocken Books was a publishing house established in 1945 in New York by the Russian émigré Salman Schocken (1898–1959). It specialised in books on Judaica and Hebrew topics.

    Word Count: 26

    Pantheon Books
    Publishing House
    New York

    Pantheon Books was a publishing house founded in 1942 by the German émigré Kurt Wolff (1887–1963) and aimed at the exiled European community in New York.

    Word Count: 24

    Querido Inc.
    Publishing House
    New York

    Fritz H. Landshoff’s Querido publishing house was originally an offshoot of Emanuel Querido's Querido Uitgeverij Dutch publishing house in Amsterdam. Querido Verlag was created in 1933 to publish work by German political exiles.

    Word Count: 33

    Black Star Agency
    Photo Agency
    New York

    The German émigrés Kurt S(z)afranski, Ern(e)st Mayer and Kurt Kornfeld founded Black Star in 1936. The photo agency established was a well-run networking institution in New York.

    Word Count: 31

    Leco Photo Service
    Photo Lab
    New York

    Leco Photo Service was a photofinishing lab, highly-frequented and a contact hub for émigré photographers and photo agencies during the 1930s and 1940s, as well as a provider of employment for women in the photo industry.

    Word Count: 36

    Rapho Guillumette
    Photo Agency
    New York

    Founded in 1940 by the emigrant Charles Rado (1899–1970), Rapho Guillumette was a picture agency.

    Word Count: 13

    Pavelle Laboratories Inc.
    Photo LabPhoto Supplier
    New York

    Pavelle Laboratories was found in 1936 by Leo and Carmen Pavelle and operated on East 42nd Street. It was specialised in the development of miniature camera film and one of the first labs working with colour film.

    Word Count: 36