The Bettmann Archive is a collection of 19 million photographs and images, some going back to the United States Civil War and including some of the best known U.S. historic images. The Archive also includes many images from Europe and elsewhere.
It was founded in 1936 by Otto Bettmann (1903–1998), a German curator who immigrated to the United States in 1935. He actively expanded his collection by advertising in magazines. e.g. in the Winter 1959 issue of Film Quarterly "Wanting to buy: Old movie stills - ca. 1915 to 1935; early comedies -- well-known stars and productions."
Otto Ludwig Bettmann (born October 15, 1903 in Leipzig, Germany; died May 1, 1998 in Boca Raton, Florida) was a German Jewish refugee who emigrated from Berlin to New York City in 1935 and established a unique picture archive in the United States. At a time when photojournalism was on the rise, he was able to channel his personal penchant and obsession for collecting pictures into a thriving business. Along the way, he spun the development of his enterprise into a classic Horatio Alger tale, successfully creating a brand for (and of) himself.
Today, the Bettmann Archive is owned by Getty Images.