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MIGRANT MOTHER In my mind Dorothea Lange will always be identified with this image I first saw it watching a documentary on the Great Depression in my sophomore History class The impact it made was so strong that ever since that first view I can picture it whenever I want with perfect clarity and detail in my mind Even without knowing the historical context you can guess it from the clothes the expression and the despair of the mothers face Yet you can also see that though tired and old before her time this woman is strong and her spirit is not yet broken and that is a lesson for those of us more fortunate Langes great skill and craft patiently learned over many years of portraiture photography were justified and rewarded in the creation of this magnificent photograph The Migrant Mother captures the concern of a weary mother for her children during the Great Depression Dorothea Lange 1885-1965 Born in 1885 in New Jersey Lange was studying to become a teacher when she discovered photography She was fortunate to study with Clarence White at Columbia before striking out on her own She opened a studio in San Francisco and worked as a portrait photographer while raising a family When the depression arrived in the 1930s she started to use her camera to record the plight of San Franciscos poor Paul Taylor an Economics professor and social activist noticed these photographs and he persuaded her to work with him in support of the migrant workers In 1935 she was recruited to Roy Strykers astonishingly talented team of photographers in the Resettlement Administration later renamed the Farm Security Administration With other greats like Walker Evans Ben Shahn Arthur Rothstein Russel Lee and Carl Mydans she produced some of the finest ever-social documentary The heritage can be traced right up to outstanding photographers of today such as Sebastio Solgardo The unit survived until
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