Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Migrant Mother (USA)

The image of a worn, weather-beaten woman, a look of desperation on her face, two children leaning on her shoulders, an infant in her lap; has become a photographic icon of the Great Depression in America. The photo was taken in March 1936 at a camp for seasonal agricultural workers 175 miles north of Los Angeles by Dorothea Lange. Lange was working for the Farm Security Administration as part of a team of photographers documenting the impact of federal programs in improving rural conditions.

In 1936, while driving down US Highway 101, the car's timing chain snapped and they coasted to a stop just inside a camp. Florence set up a camp there, and Jim Hill, a man who was living with Florence, went to get help for their car with two of her sons. As Florence waited for Hill and her boys to come back, Dorothea Lange drove up and started taking photos of Florence and her family. Over 10 minutes she took 6 images.

Lange wrote of the meeting: "I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was 32. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food."

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