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Guide to the Farm Security Administration photographs, 1939-1942

Summary

Collection of eleven color photographs taken from 1939 to 1942 by Farm Security Administration photographers Jack Delano (7 prints), Russell Lee (3 prints) and Marion Post Wolcott (1 print). The prints are sized 11 x 14 inches, and were created in the 1980s by photograph collector and gallery owner Tennyson Schad, using the dye transfer process. Subjects are diverse and include industrial settings such as a Pennsylvania steel mill and a sawmill in Maine; rural settings such as a wheat field in Washington State and tobacco cultivation in Puerto Rico; and scenes with people, including a group of African Americans fishing near a cotton plantation in Mississippi. Together, the images reveal the subject and stylistic choices made by these notable photographers commissioned for the FSA project. Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.

Collection Details

Collection Number
RL.11703
Title
Farm Security Administration photographs, 1939-1942
Date
1939-1942
Extent
.5 Linear Feet, 1 box
Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Language
Materials in English

Collection Overview

Content Description

Collection of eleven color photographs taken from 1939 to 1942 by Farm Security Administration photographers Jack Delano (7 prints), Russell Lee (3 prints) and Marion Post Wolcott (1 print). The color prints are sized 11 x 14 inches, with image sizes ranging from 6 1/2 x 9 3/4 to 10 x 13 inches. They were created by photograph collector and gallery owner Tennyson Schad in the 1980s, using the dye transfer process.

Subjects include industrial settings such as a Pennsylvania steel mill and a sawmill in Maine; rural settings such as a wheat field in Washington State; and photographs of people, including a group of African Americans fishing near a cotton plantation in Mississippi. There are several photographs of tobacco cultivation and communities in Puerto Rico, where photographer Jack Delano settled short after this project. Together, the images reveal the diverse subject and stylistic choices made by these notable photographers commissioned for the FSA project.

Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.

More Biographical / Historical Info

Arrangement

Arranged by photographer and within, alphabetically by title.

Using These Materials

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 2 full business days in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning Access to the Collection

Collection is open for research. Images may only be used for educational, non-commercial purposes.

warning Use & Permissions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

More copyright and citation information

How to Cite

[Identification of item], Farm Security Administration photographs, 1939-1942, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

1. Jack Delano FSA photographs, 1940-1942

7 photographs, Sheet dimensions: 11 x 14 inches. Image dimensions noted in each entry.

Titles have been transcribed from the original captions associated with Jack Delano negatives for these images in the Library Of Congress, Farm Security Administration photographs collection. Titles on backs of prints may vary.

Prints were created by Tennyson Schad; printing date transcribed from notation on back of photographs.

Born in the Ukraine in 1914, Delano moved to the United States in 1923 when he was five. After graduating from Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1937, Delano worked for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and the Office of War Information (OWI) as a photographer. He was also a well-known music composer. He died in Puerto Rico in 1997, where he had lived since 1946.

A starch factory along the Aroostook River, Caribou, Aroostook County, Maine, 1940 October
(Sheet size: 11 x 14 inches; image size: 7 x 10 inches)

Print date: circa 1986

Box 1
A woman painting a view of the Shenandoah Valley from the Skyline Drive, near an entrance to the Appalachian Trail, Virginia, circa 1940
(Sheet size: 11 x 14 inches; image size: 7 x 10 inches)

Print date: 1985.

Title on back of print: "Man painting from Skyline Drive, Shenandoah Valley, VA."

Box 1
Federal housing project on the outskirts of the town Yuaco, Puerto Rico. About an acre of land for gardens is provided with each house, 1942 January
(Sheet size: 11 x 14 inches; image size: 7 x 10 inches)

Print date: 1986

Box 1
Near the waterfront, New Bedford, Massachusetts, 1941 January
(Sheet size: 11 x 14 inches; image size: 10 x 13 inches)

Print date: 1983

Box 1
Sawmill near Van Buren, Maine, 1940 October
(Sheet size: 11 x 14 inches; image size: 7 3/8 x 9 3/4 inches)

Print date: 1986

Box 1
Steel mills, Midland, Pennsylvania, 1941 February
(Sheet size: 11 x 14 inches; image size: 6 1/2 x 9 3/4 inches)

Print date: 1986 March

Box 1
Tobacco country, vicinity of Barranquitas, Puerto Rico, 1941 December
(Sheet size: 11 x 14 inches; image size: 7 x 10 inches)

Print date: 1983

Box 1

2. Russell Lee FSA photographs, 1940-1941

3 photographs, Sheet dimensions: 11x14 inches. Image dimensions noted in each entry.

Titles have been transcribed from the original captions associated with Russell Lee negatives for these images in the Library Of Congress, Farm Security Administration photographs collection. Titles on backs of prints may vary.

Prints were created by Tennyson Schad; printing date transcribed from notation on back of photographs.

Russell Lee (1903-1990) was born in Illinois. A journalist and photographer, he was best known for his photographic work for the Farm Security Administration from 1936 to 1943. He died in Austin, Texas, where he had taught photography at the University of Texas.

Grain elevators, Caldwell, Idaho, 1941 July
(Sheet size: 11 x 14 inches; image size: 7 x 10 inches)

Print date: 1986

Box 1
Saying grace before the barbeque dinner at the Pie Town, New Mexico Fair, 1940 October
(Sheet size: 11 x 14 inches; image size: 6 1/2 x 10 inches)

Print date: 1985

Box 1
Wheat farm, Walla Walla, Washington, 1941 July
(Sheet size: 11 x 14 inches; image size: 7 x 10 inches)

Print date: 1985

Box 1

3. Marion Post Wolcott FSA photograph, 1939

Sheet dimensions: 11x14 inches. Image dimensions noted in the entry.

Title has been transcribed from the original caption associated with Marion Post Wolcott negative for this image in the Library Of Congress, Farm Security Administration photographs collection.

Print was created by Tennyson Schad; printing date transcribed from notation on back of print.

Negroes fishing in creek near cotton plantations outside Belzoni. Mississippi Delta, Mississippi, 1939 October
(Sheet size: 11 x 14 inches; image size: 7 x 10 inches)

Print date: 1986

Box 1
 

Historical Note

The Farm Security Administration Project

Following the Great Depression, the Farm Security Administration was created in 1937 under the Department of Agriculture, as part of the U.S. Federal government "New Deal" recovery programs. Its main purpose was to minister to the needs of and improve the situation of impoverished rural people.

In support of this effort, the FSA hired noted photographers and oral history interviewers to promote FSA programs and to document economic and social conditions and natural landscapes of the U.S. and its , as well as to illustrate the still-present vitality of the United States in the aftermath of the Depression. Between 1937 and 1946, FSA/OWI photographers created over 175,000 black and white images, and about 1600 color images using Kodachrome chromogenic film, a relatively new process. Among the photographers were Jack Delano, Russell Lee, and Marion Post Wolcott, whose color images form this collection.

Led by economist/photographer Roy Stryker, the documentary work ran until 1942, when the FSA was dissolved and subsumed under the Office of War Information. Many of the photographers hired for the FSA continued their work under the OWI.

[Chief source of information: Library of Congress FSA/OWI Color Photographs Collection website, accessed March 2019.]

Related Material

Original color film transparencies are located at the Library of Congrees, Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Color Photographs collection.


Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.

Provenance

The Farm Security Administration photographs were acquired as a gift from the Howard Greenberg Gallery in 2018.

Processing Information

Processed and described by Edward Coles and Paula Jeannet, March 2019.

Accession(s) described in this collection guide: 2018-0185.

Other Notes

The color prints in this collection were created in the 1980s using the dye-transfer method.