America from the Great Depression to WWII

  • The Farm Security Administration

The Farm Security Administration (now the Farm Service Agency) was started in 1933. Between 1935-1944, photographers and writers were hired to create documents illustrating the poverty of farmers. Many Depression-era photographers who are well-known today got their start with the FSA, including Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein, Russell Lee and Gordon Parks..

Eleven photographers all together worked for the FSA in the capacity. The idea was to create documents supporting the need for social reform of the poor conditions among tenant farmers. These were not the large-scale farms one sees today. Altogether, 250,000 photographs of rural poverty were created, a national art project. Less than half survive and those are held by the Library of Congress.

  • Week 6-7: Rural Sociology

America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA-OWI 1935-1945

(the impact of the Great Depression on farmers, life during the Dust Bowl, rural and small-town life, poverty)


Bill Ganzel, Farming in the 1930s,

  • Robert Frank

For photographic documentation of America AFTER World War 2, in mid century, please see the work of Robert Frank

Essay 3: (Goals 1,2,3; Core Goals 1,2,3,4,5) contrasting and comparing 2 Farm Security Administration photographers. Examine:

Library of Congress, American Memory Project

Contrast and compare two photographers or photographs from two different photographers who worked for the Farm Security Administration from the list below:

Arthur Rothstein, Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee, John Vachon, Walker Evans, Gordon Parks.

What similarities and differences do you see in the intent of the photographer and the realized images (see link above for interviews with some of these photographers)? How can those similarities and differences be explained? Use at least two sociological concepts to inform your essay.

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