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Migrant Mother

Dorothea Lange

The photographer and photojournalist Dorothea Lange was employed by the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and the Resettlement Administration (RA) between 1935 and 1939. Her photographs captured the plight of the poor and forgotten in Depression-era USA and influenced the development of documentary photography. Lange spoke of the experience of taking this photograph to the ‘Popular Photography’ magazine in February 1960: “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.”