Lange in 1936
Dorothea Margaretta Nutzhorn
May 26, 1895
Hoboken, New Jersey, U.S.
|Died||October 11, 1965 70) (aged|
|Known for||Documentary photography, photojournalism|
Dorothea Lange (May 26, 1895 – October 11, 1965) was an American documentary photographer and photojournalist, best known for her Depression-era work for the Farm Security Administration (FSA). Lange's photographs humanized the consequences of the Great Depression and influenced the development of documentary photography.
A photographer is a person who makes photographs.
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning in the United States. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations; in most countries it started in 1929 and lasted until the late-1930s. It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century. In the 21st century, the Great Depression is commonly used as an example of how intensely the world's economy can decline.
The Farm Security Administration (FSA) was a New Deal agency created in 1937 to combat rural poverty during the Great Depression in the United States. It succeeded the Resettlement Administration (1935–1937).
Dorothea Margaretta Nutzhorn was born on May 26, 1895, at 1041 Bloomfield Street, Hoboken, New Jerseyto second-generation German immigrants Heinrich Nutzhorn and Johanna Lange. She had a younger brother, Martin. She dropped her middle name and assumed her mother's maiden name after her father abandoned the family when she was twelve years old, one of two traumatic events early in her life. The other trauma was her contraction of polio at age seven, which left her with a weakened right leg and a permanent limp. "It formed me, guided me, instructed me, helped me and humiliated me," Lange once said of her altered gait. "I've never gotten over it, and I am aware of the force and power of it."
Hoboken is a city in Hudson County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population was 50,005, having grown by 11,428 (+29.6%) from 38,577 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 5,180 (+15.5%) from the 33,397 in the 1990 Census. Hoboken is part of the New York metropolitan area and is the site of Hoboken Terminal, a major transportation hub for the tri-state region.
Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe, who share a common German ancestry, culture and history. German is the shared mother tongue of a substantial majority of ethnic Germans.
Polio, also called poliomyelitis or infantile paralysis, is an infectious disease caused by the poliovirus. In about 0.5 percent of cases there is muscle weakness resulting in an inability to move. This can occur over a few hours to a few days. The weakness most often involves the legs but may less commonly involve the muscles of the head, neck and diaphragm. Many people fully recover. In those with muscle weakness about 2 to 5 percent of children and 15 to 30 percent of adults die. Another 25 percent of people have minor symptoms such as fever and a sore throat and up to 5 percent have headache, neck stiffness and pains in the arms and legs. These people are usually back to normal within one or two weeks. In up to 70 percent of infections there are no symptoms. Years after recovery post-polio syndrome may occur, with a slow development of muscle weakness similar to that which the person had during the initial infection.
Lange graduated from the Wadleigh High School for Girls, and although she had never operated or owned a camera, she was adamant that she would become a photographer upon graduating from high school. Lange was educated in photography at Columbia University in New York City in a class taught by Clarence H. White. She was informally apprenticed to several New York photography studios, including that of the famed Arnold Genthe. In 1918, she left New York with a female friend to travel the world, but was forced to end the trip in San Francisco due to a robbery, and settled there, working as a photograph finisher at a photographic supply shop. where she became acquainted with other photographers and met an investor that aided in the establishment of a successful portrait studio. This business supported Lange and her family for the next fifteen years. In 1920, she married the noted western painter Maynard Dixon, with whom she had two sons, Daniel, born in 1925, and John, born in 1930.
The Wadleigh High School for Girls, which was established by the NYC Board of Education in 1897, and which moved into its new building in September 1902, was the first public high school for girls in New York City. At the time, public secondary education for girls was considered highly novel and perhaps a bit scandalous. Newspapers considered it newsworthy enough to devote many stories to describing classroom scenes of girls receiving “higher” education.
Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university in Upper Manhattan, New York City. Established in 1754, Columbia is the oldest institution of higher education in New York and the fifth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It is one of nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence, seven of which belong to the Ivy League. It has been ranked by numerous major education publications as among the top ten universities in the world.
Arnold Genthe was a German-born American photographer, best known for his photographs of San Francisco's Chinatown, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and his portraits of noted people, from politicians and socialites to literary figures and entertainment celebrities.
Lange's early studio work mostly involved shooting portrait photographs of the social elite in San Francisco.At the onset of the Great Depression, Lange turned her lens from the studio to the street. Her photographs during this period bear kinship with John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath . Her studies of unemployed and homeless people, starting with White Angel Breadline (1933), which depicted a lone man facing away from the crowd in front of a soup kitchen run by a widow known as the White Angel, captured the attention of local photographers and led to her employment with the federal Resettlement Administration (RA), later called the Farm Security Administration (FSA).
San Francisco, officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the cultural, commercial, and financial center of Northern California. San Francisco is the 13th-most populous city in the United States, and the fourth-most populous in California, with 884,363 residents as of 2017. It covers an area of about 46.89 square miles (121.4 km2), mostly at the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area, making it the second-most densely populated large US city, and the fifth-most densely populated U.S. county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs. San Francisco is also part of the fifth-most populous primary statistical area in the United States, the San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area.
John Ernst Steinbeck Jr. was an American author. He won the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception." He has been called "a giant of American letters," and many of his works are considered classics of Western literature.
The Grapes of Wrath is an American realist novel written by John Steinbeck and published in 1939. The book won the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and it was cited prominently when Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962.
In December 1935, Lange and Dixon divorced, and she married economist Paul Schuster Taylor, Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley.For the next five years they documented rural poverty and the exploitation of sharecroppers and migrant laborers. Taylor interviewed subjects and gathered economic data, while Lange took photographs. Lange resided in Berkeley for the rest of her life.
Paul Schuster Taylor was a progressive agricultural economist. He was an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin and earned his PhD at the University of California, Berkeley where he then became professor of economics from 1922, until his retirement in 1962.
The University of California, Berkeley is a public research university in Berkeley, California. It was founded in 1868 and serves as the flagship institution of the ten research universities affiliated with the University of California system. Berkeley has since grown to instruct over 40,000 students in approximately 350 undergraduate and graduate degree programs covering numerous disciplines.
Berkeley is a city on the east shore of San Francisco Bay in northern Alameda County, California. It is named after the 18th-century Irish bishop and philosopher George Berkeley. It borders the cities of Oakland and Emeryville to the south and the city of Albany and the unincorporated community of Kensington to the north. Its eastern border with Contra Costa County generally follows the ridge of the Berkeley Hills. The 2010 census recorded a population of 112,580.
Working for the Resettlement Administration and Farm Security Administration, Lange's images brought the plight of the poor and forgotten—particularly sharecroppers, displaced farm families, and migrant workers—to public attention. Distributed free to newspapers across the country, Lange's poignant images became icons of the era.
One of Lange's most recognized works is Migrant Mother.The woman in the photograph is Florence Owens Thompson. In 1960, Lange spoke about her experience taking the photograph:
Florence Owens Thompson was the subject of Dorothea Lange's famous photo Migrant Mother (1936), an iconic image of the Great Depression. The Library of Congress titled the image: "Destitute pea pickers in California. Mother of seven children. Age thirty-two. Nipomo, California."
I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. 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. There she sat in that lean-to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it.
After Lange returned home, she told the editor of a San Francisco newspaper about conditions at the camp and provided him with two of her photographs. The editor informed federal authorities and published an article that included the images. In response, the government rushed aid to the camp to prevent starvation.
According to Thompson's son, Lange got some details of this story wrong, but the impact of the picture was based on the image of the strength and need of migrant workers.Twenty-two of the photographs she took as part of the FSA were included in John Steinbeck's The Harvest Gypsies when it was originally published in The San Francisco News in 1936.
In 1941, Lange was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for achievement in photography.After the attack on Pearl Harbor, she gave up the prestigious fellowship to record the forced evacuation of Japanese Americans from the West Coast on assignment for the War Relocation Authority (WRA). She covered the internment of Japanese Americans and their subsequent incarceration, traveling throughout urban and rural California to photograph families preparing to leave, visiting several temporary assembly centers as they opened, and eventually highlighting Manzanar, the first of the permanent internment camps. Much of her work focused on the waiting and uncertainty involved in the removal: piles of luggage waiting to be sorted, families wearing identification tags while awaiting transport. To many observers, her photograph of Japanese American children pledging allegiance to the flag shortly before they were sent to camp is a haunting reminder of the travesty of detaining people without charging them with a crime.
Her images were so obviously critical that the Army impounded most of them, and they were not seen publicly during the war.Today her photographs of the internment are available in the National Archives on the website of the Still Photographs Division, and at the Bancroft Library of the University of California, Berkeley.
In 1945, Ansel Adams invited Lange was to teach at the first fine art photography department at the California School of Fine Arts (CSFA), now known as San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI). Imogen Cunningham and Minor White also joined the faculty.
In 1952, Lange co-founded the photography magazine Aperture . In the mid-1950s , Life magazine commissioned Lange and Pirkle Jones to shoot a documentary about the death of Monticello, California and the subsequent displacement of its residents by the damming of Putah Creek to form Lake Berryessa. Because the magazine did not run the piece, Lange devoted an entire issue of Aperture to the work. The collection was shown at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1960.Another series for Life magazine, which Lange began in 1954, featured Martin Pulich, a lawyer, due to Lange's interest in how poor people were defended in the court system, which by one account grew out of her experience with her brother’s arrest and trial.
In the last two decades of her life, Lange's health declined.She suffered from gastric problems as well as post-polio syndrome, although the reoccurrence of the pain and weakness of polio was not yet recognized by most physicians.
Lange died of esophageal cancer on October 11, 1965, in San Francisco, California, at age seventy.She was survived by her second husband, Paul Taylor, two children, three stepchildren, and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Three months later, the Museum of Modern Art in New York mounted a retrospective of her work, which Lange herself had helped to curate.
In 2003, Lange was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.In 2006, an elementary school was named in her honor in Nipomo, California, near the site where she had photographed Migrant Mother. In 2008, she was inducted into the California Hall of Fame, located at The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts; her son, Daniel Dixon, accepted the honor in her place. In October 2018, Lange's hometown of Hoboken, New Jersey honored her with a mural depicting Lange and two other prominent women from Hoboken's history, Maria Pepe and Dorothy McNeil.
Imogen Cunningham was an American photographer known for her botanical photography, nudes, and industrial landscapes. Cunningham was a member of the California-based Group f/64, known for its dedication to the sharp-focus rendition of simple subjects.
Ruth Bernhard was a German-born American photographer.
Hansel Mieth (1909–1998) was a German-born photojournalist who worked on the staff of LIFE Magazine. She was best known for her social commentary photography which recorded the lives of working class Americans in the 1930s and 1940s.
Marion Post, later Marion Post Wolcott, was a noted American photographer who worked for the Farm Security Administration during the Great Depression documenting poverty and deprivation.
Ruth-Marion Baruch (1922–1997) was an American photographer remembered for her pictures of the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1960s. Baruch was in the first class of students at the California School of Fine Arts begun by Ansel Adams and Minor White after World War II. These include a series on the Black Panther Party taken from July to October 1968 in collaboration with photographer Pirkle Jones, and a series on the hippies of Haight-Ashbury. Baruch's photographs were exhibited in Perceptions at the San Francisco Museum of Art in 1954 as well as Edward Steichen's New York Museum of Modern Arts exhibition, The Family of Man in 1955.
Anne Wardrope (Nott) Brigman (1869–1950) was an American photographer and one of the original members of the Photo-Secession movement in America.
Born Free and Equal: The Story of Loyal Japanese-Americans is a book by Ansel Adams containing photographs from his 1943–1944 visit to the internment camp then named Manzanar War Relocation Center in Owens Valley, Inyo County, California. The book was published in 1944 by U.S. Camera in New York.
Pirkle Jones was a documentary photographer born in Shreveport, Louisiana. His first experience with photography was when he bought a Kodak Brownie at the age of seventeen. In the 1930s his photographs were featured in pictorialist salons and publications. He served four years in the army during World War II in the 37th division and went to the Fiji Islands, New Georgia, Guadalcanal and the Philippines.
Consuelo Delesseps Kanaga (1894–1978) was an American photographer and writer who became well known for her photographs of African-Americans.
Alma Ruth Lavenson was an American photographer of the first half of the 20th century. She worked with and was a close friend of Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Edward Weston and other photographic masters of the period.
Carol Henry is an American fine art photographer and curator.
Linda Gordon is an American feminist and historian. She lives in New York City and in Madison, Wisconsin. She won the Marfield Prize for Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits, and the Antonovych Prize for Cossack Rebellions: Social Turmoil in the Sixteenth-Century Ukraine.
Carol McKinney Highsmith is an American photographer, author, and publisher who has photographed in all the states of the United States, as well as the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. She photographs the entire American vista in all fifty U.S. states as a record of the early 21st century.
Otto Hagel (1909–1973) was a German-born American photographer and filmmaker. He and his wife Hansel Mieth were part of the school of socially conscious documentary photo-journalists that included Dorothea Lange, Imogen Cunningham, Peter Stackpole and Robert Capa. In the early 1930s, Hagel was a member of the San Francisco Film and Photo League.
Rondal Partridge was an American photographer. After working as an assistant to well-known photographers Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams in his youth, he went on to a long career as a photographer and filmmaker.
Sandra S. "Sandy" Phillips is an American writer, and curator working in the field of photography. She is the Curator Emeritus of Photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She joined the museum as curator of photography in 1987 and was promoted to senior curator of photography in 1999 in acknowledgement of her considerable contributions to SFMOMA. A photographic historian and former curator at the Vassar College Art Gallery in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Phillips succeeded Van Deren Coke as head of one of the country’s most active departments of photography. Phillips stepped down from her full time position in 2016.
Kenneth Randall Light is an American social documentary photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is the author of nine monographs, including TexasDeath Row and his most recently published What'sgoing on? 1969-1974. He wrote of Witness in our Time: Working Lives of Documentary Photographers, a collection of recollections and interviews with 29 of the world's most well-known photographers, editors and curators of the genre. He has had his photographs included as part of photo essays and portfolios in newspapers, magazines and other media, has been exhibited worldwide and is part of museum collections such as SF Museum of Modern Art and International Center of Photography. Light was also a co-founder of Fotovision, the Mother Jones International Fund for Documentary Photography and he is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts photography fellowships. He is also a professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at U.C. Berkeley where he holds the Reva and David Logan chair in photojournalism and he is the director of the school's Logan documentary photography gallery.
David S. Johnson is an American photographer. He is known for his portrayal of society, urban life, and the jazz culture of San Francisco's Fillmore District in the 1940s and 1950s, as well as figures of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Born in Florida under segregation and trained at the California School of Fine Arts, he was the first African American student of photographer Ansel Adams.
Born in Hoboken, New Jersey, Dorothea Lange (1895–1965) announced her intention to become a photographer at age 18. After apprenticing with a photographer in New York City, she moved to San Francisco and in 1919 established her own studio.