Dignity vs. Despair: Dorothea Lange and Depression-Era Photographers, 1933–1941
After the stock market crash in 1929, the United States experienced a deep and long lasting economic depression. Fortunes were lost and many found themselves jobless and homeless. Farms were destroyed due to drought and extreme soil erosion.
The Farm Security Administration (FSA), created in response to the Great Depression, provided loans to farmers, resettlement options for destitute families, and camps for migrant workers. Governmental agencies like the FSA saw photography as an effective way to document the disaster—to show the need for federal aid and to prompt legislative action.
Highlighting the work of five photographers— Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Arthur Rothstein, Marion Post Wolcott and Peter Sekaer, this exhibition features images of urban hardship, the plight of the migrant worker, and poverty in the South. The integration of images with the photographers’ own words—excerpted from captions, field notes, and interviews—gives a poignant look at one of the most difficult times in U.S. history.
Top of page: Peter Sekaer, American, born Denmark (1901–1950). Louisville, Kentucky, ca. 1936. Gelatin silver print, 6 1/2 × 9 3/8 inches. Gift of the Hall Family Foundation, 2016.75.260.