Photographer Dorothea Lange

Dorothea Lange was an American photographer who worked for the Resettlement Administration and Farm Security Administration during the Depression. Many of her photographs from this time period were used in a report to the U.S. Senate documenting what was happening to migrant and displaced workers during the Dustbowl and the Depression. She also recorded the Japanese interment for the War Relocation Authority but these photographs were impounded because they were very critical of the Army. They were apparently stashed away in the National Archives until 2005 or so.

I find her work very moving. Though there has been controversy over whether some of the photos were staged, and how she benefited professionally from other’s misery, I see her photos as documentation of some difficult times in our country’s history.

Destitute peapickers in California; a 32 year old mother of seven children. February 1936.

Migratory boy, aged 11, and his grandfather, work side by side picking hops, Willamette Valley, 1939.

Grandfather and grandson of Japanese ancestry at Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California, 1942.

Migratory Mexican field worker’s home on the edge of a frozen pea field, 1937.

These photographs are all from the Library of Congress’ American Memory Project. For more informaton on Ms. Lange’s photography of the Japanese internment, see Dinita Smith’s article Photographs of an Episode That Lives in Infamy from the N.Y. Times.


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