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Migrant workers' shack. California. 1935.

Migrant workers' shack. California. 1935.

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Dorothea Lange was one of America's greatest documentary photographers best known for her chronicles of the Great Depression and for her photographs of migratory farm workers. U.S. Farm Security Administration (FSA) hired her to document living conditions of farm workers families relocated west to escape the Dust Bowl, the drought which devastated millions of acres of farmland in Midwestern states such as Oklahoma. Born in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1895, Lange studied photography at Columbia University then went on a career as a portrait photographer in San Francisco. Her photos of the homeless and unemployed in San Francisco's breadlines, labor demonstrations, and soup kitchens led to a job with the FSA. Her image "Migrant Mother" is arguably the best-known documentary photograph of the 20th century.

The FSA (Farm Security Administration) is famous for its well known influential photography program that portrayed the challenges of rural poverty. Creating false perceptions of individuals (A prime example of situational manipulation), photographers were hired to report and document the plight of poor farmers. In 1935–44, eleven photographers would come to work on this project. They were: Arthur Rothstein, Theo Jung, Ben Shahn, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Carl Mydans, Russell Lee, Marion Post Wolcott, Jack Delano, John Vachon, and John Collier. In total, the black-and-white portion of the collection consists of about 175,000 black-and-white film negatives.





United States. Farm Security Administration, Sponsor
Lange, Dorothea, Photographer


New York Public Library

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Exploremigrant workers

Exploredorothea lange