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Dorothea Lange and the Migrant MotherDorothea Lange and the Migrant Mother
During the 1930s severe drought, poor farming methods and highDuring the 1930s severe drought, poor farming methods and high
winds combined to turn soil across the US and Canadian prairies towinds combined to turn soil across the US and Canadian prairies to
dust. The dust blew in massive clouds across the country.dust. The dust blew in massive clouds across the country.
The dust clouds often blackened the skyThe dust clouds often blackened the sky
20 of the worst black blizzards occurred across the Great20 of the worst black blizzards occurred across the Great
Plains turning day to night.Plains turning day to night.
500,000 Americans were left homeless500,000 Americans were left homeless
Black SundayBlack Sunday
April 14, 1935April 14, 1935
Conditions desperateConditions desperate
Many packed and moved westwardMany packed and moved westward
What became known as theWhat became known as the Dust BowlDust Bowl forced tens offorced tens of
thousands of families to leave their farms, many migratingthousands of families to leave their farms, many migrating
to Californiato California
But California was not the promised landBut California was not the promised land
Workers had to compete for work with other workers and immigrantsWorkers had to compete for work with other workers and immigrants
Migrant pea pickers camp in CaliforniaMigrant pea pickers camp in California
TheThe Resettlement AdministrationResettlement Administration ((RARA) was a New Deal U.S. federal agency) was a New Deal U.S. federal agency
relocating struggling families to communities planned by the federalrelocating struggling families to communities planned by the federal
government but also bringing attention to the needs of the people affected.government but also bringing attention to the needs of the people affected.
The Resettlement
Administration (RA)
The RA originally focused on
building relief camps for
migratory workers in
California during the
depression. Many of the
refugees were from the
drought-struck Dust Bowl of
the Southwest.
The RA later folded into the
Farm Security Administration
(FSA), which operated until
1946
RA and FSA hiredRA and FSA hired
photographers for publicphotographers for public
relations to documentrelations to document
that there was need.that there was need.
This mission resulted inThis mission resulted in
over 80,000 photographs,over 80,000 photographs,
one of the most famousone of the most famous
documentarydocumentary
photography projectsphotography projects
undertaken.undertaken.
Socially ConsciousSocially Conscious
Photographer andPhotographer and
DocumentarianDocumentarian
Dorothea LangeDorothea Lange
1895-19651895-1965
Dorothea Lange was hired byDorothea Lange was hired by
the FSA to document the ruralthe FSA to document the rural
hardship she encounteredhardship she encountered
across the countryacross the country
Lange's photographs humanized the tragic
consequences of the Great Depression
But one photo came to represent the era….
Lange’s iconic
photo
“Migrant Mother”
(Florence
Thompson)
1936
Ethical Concerns:Ethical Concerns:
Consider the series of pictures.Consider the series of pictures.
Is there an element of stage management?Is there an element of stage management?
Does the photographer participate in theDoes the photographer participate in the
documentation?documentation?
Can one document an event withoutCan one document an event without
influencing the event?influencing the event?
“I saw and approached the hungry and desperate
mother, as if drawn by a magnet.” Lange
Dorothea Lange and the Migrant Mother
Dorothea Lange and the Migrant Mother
Dorothea Lange and the Migrant Mother
32 yr. old Florence
Thompson,
pregnant mother
of 7 in California
Pea-Picker’s Camp
The Migrant Mother
Emotionally
charged, and sad.
A single poignant
moment.
Only 3 children
shown, faces
hidden
Ethical Concerns:Ethical Concerns:
What about the subject?What about the subject?
What responsibility does theWhat responsibility does the
photographer have?photographer have?
How was the subject treated?How was the subject treated?
Who benefits?Who benefits?
Lange did not ask Florence her name. Her identity was unknown for over 40 years
The photos were published days after being taken and resulted in 20,000 lbs. of
food aid to the area. But Florence and family had moved on and received no
benefit
She bitterly resented the picture. Years later she died of Cancer and did benefit
from some public support.
Lange did not make money from the photo but she did become well known andLange did not make money from the photo but she did become well known and
successfulsuccessful
She brought attention to an important cause and made a huge impact onShe brought attention to an important cause and made a huge impact on
documentary photographydocumentary photography
“Her photographs bring the subjects alive while transmitting an emotional, even
raw, vitality that captured the human condition. Lange succinctly recounted her
photographic goals while working in the field: ‘See what you can bring home. See
what is really there. What does it look like? What does it feel like? What actually is
the human condition?’ “http://www.katahdin.org/films/lange/more.html
Dorothea Lange and the Migrant Mother
Dorothea Lange and the Migrant Mother
“The camera is an
instrument that
teaches people how to
see without a camera.”
Dorothea Lange

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Dorothea Lange and the Migrant Mother

  • 1. Dorothea Lange and the Migrant MotherDorothea Lange and the Migrant Mother
  • 2. During the 1930s severe drought, poor farming methods and highDuring the 1930s severe drought, poor farming methods and high winds combined to turn soil across the US and Canadian prairies towinds combined to turn soil across the US and Canadian prairies to dust. The dust blew in massive clouds across the country.dust. The dust blew in massive clouds across the country.
  • 3. The dust clouds often blackened the skyThe dust clouds often blackened the sky
  • 4. 20 of the worst black blizzards occurred across the Great20 of the worst black blizzards occurred across the Great Plains turning day to night.Plains turning day to night. 500,000 Americans were left homeless500,000 Americans were left homeless Black SundayBlack Sunday April 14, 1935April 14, 1935
  • 6. Many packed and moved westwardMany packed and moved westward
  • 7. What became known as theWhat became known as the Dust BowlDust Bowl forced tens offorced tens of thousands of families to leave their farms, many migratingthousands of families to leave their farms, many migrating to Californiato California
  • 8. But California was not the promised landBut California was not the promised land
  • 9. Workers had to compete for work with other workers and immigrantsWorkers had to compete for work with other workers and immigrants
  • 10. Migrant pea pickers camp in CaliforniaMigrant pea pickers camp in California
  • 11. TheThe Resettlement AdministrationResettlement Administration ((RARA) was a New Deal U.S. federal agency) was a New Deal U.S. federal agency relocating struggling families to communities planned by the federalrelocating struggling families to communities planned by the federal government but also bringing attention to the needs of the people affected.government but also bringing attention to the needs of the people affected.
  • 12. The Resettlement Administration (RA) The RA originally focused on building relief camps for migratory workers in California during the depression. Many of the refugees were from the drought-struck Dust Bowl of the Southwest. The RA later folded into the Farm Security Administration (FSA), which operated until 1946
  • 13. RA and FSA hiredRA and FSA hired photographers for publicphotographers for public relations to documentrelations to document that there was need.that there was need. This mission resulted inThis mission resulted in over 80,000 photographs,over 80,000 photographs, one of the most famousone of the most famous documentarydocumentary photography projectsphotography projects undertaken.undertaken.
  • 14. Socially ConsciousSocially Conscious Photographer andPhotographer and DocumentarianDocumentarian Dorothea LangeDorothea Lange 1895-19651895-1965
  • 15. Dorothea Lange was hired byDorothea Lange was hired by the FSA to document the ruralthe FSA to document the rural hardship she encounteredhardship she encountered across the countryacross the country
  • 16. Lange's photographs humanized the tragic consequences of the Great Depression But one photo came to represent the era….
  • 18. Ethical Concerns:Ethical Concerns: Consider the series of pictures.Consider the series of pictures. Is there an element of stage management?Is there an element of stage management? Does the photographer participate in theDoes the photographer participate in the documentation?documentation? Can one document an event withoutCan one document an event without influencing the event?influencing the event?
  • 19. “I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet.” Lange
  • 23. 32 yr. old Florence Thompson, pregnant mother of 7 in California Pea-Picker’s Camp
  • 24. The Migrant Mother Emotionally charged, and sad. A single poignant moment. Only 3 children shown, faces hidden
  • 25. Ethical Concerns:Ethical Concerns: What about the subject?What about the subject? What responsibility does theWhat responsibility does the photographer have?photographer have? How was the subject treated?How was the subject treated? Who benefits?Who benefits?
  • 26. Lange did not ask Florence her name. Her identity was unknown for over 40 years The photos were published days after being taken and resulted in 20,000 lbs. of food aid to the area. But Florence and family had moved on and received no benefit She bitterly resented the picture. Years later she died of Cancer and did benefit from some public support.
  • 27. Lange did not make money from the photo but she did become well known andLange did not make money from the photo but she did become well known and successfulsuccessful She brought attention to an important cause and made a huge impact onShe brought attention to an important cause and made a huge impact on documentary photographydocumentary photography
  • 28. “Her photographs bring the subjects alive while transmitting an emotional, even raw, vitality that captured the human condition. Lange succinctly recounted her photographic goals while working in the field: ‘See what you can bring home. See what is really there. What does it look like? What does it feel like? What actually is the human condition?’ “http://www.katahdin.org/films/lange/more.html
  • 31. “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” Dorothea Lange

Editor's Notes

  1. Farm Security Administration was a New Deal agency to combat rural poverty. Photographers hired for Public Relations to show there was a need for aid, and that FSA was helping They were to document the American way of life. Over 80, 000 BW images
  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RBewhoQu34
  3. Lange was finishing a month’s trip when she came across Migrant mother---The image is as moving today as it was then-It became a classic
  4. Symbolic of madonna..mother and child- Thompson sad and worried for children