Photographer Dorothea Lange (1895-1965) was moved by the poverty she
saw during the Great Depression, and she used her camera to do something
about it. Her powerful images were meant to communicate the dignity
people could maintain in the face of great hardship, and to inspire
compassion in the more fortunate and action on the part of the government.
Her photographs, with the essays and captions provided by her husband
and collaborator labor economist Paul Schuster Taylor, had an emotional
impact on millions of people.
Perhaps the best known of the documentary photographers
who still influence our visual understanding of the 1930s and 40s,
Lange photographed the strikes and breadlines of San Francisco in
the early 1930s. She began work for the Resettlement Administration
in 1935, and made photographs, including Migrant Mother, that became
symbols of the depression. She photographed Japanese internment
camps and women and minorities doing war work during World War II,
and dedicated her life to documenting the human condition with compassion
and a quiet power.
These two photographs are from San Francisco,
May Day 1934.