Woman Making History #53: Dorothea Lange


dorothea_lange.jpgNoted Depression photographer Dorothea Lange was born in New Jersey in 1895. She had polio as a child and was partially disabled by the experience, walking with a limp for the rest of her life. She attended Columbia University, studying photography, and worked in New York photography studios. In 1918, she started traveling, making her way to San Francisco, where she worked in studio photography during the 1920s. She then married and toured the Southwest with her husband, photographing Native Americans.

When the Depression hit, Lange began to photograph those who were most effected by it. She and her second husband were employed by the Farm Security Administration. migrantmother.jpg

Lange's husband was a labor economist, and her job was to document the victims of the Dust Bowl. Some of these photographs are very famous, particularly "Migrant Mother, Nipoma, California, 1936", shown here.

In 1941, Lange was the first woman to be awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship (which she was never able to complete, due to health problems and her changed focus after the breakout of World War II). During World War II, Lange photographed Japanese-Americans in internment camps and the women working in California shipyards. Her images of the internment camps were so critical that the U.S. Army impounded them.

During the 1950s and early 1960s, Lange traveled extensively internationally, doing photographic essays for Life magazine in Vietnam, Ireland, Pakistan, and India.

Dorothea Lange died in 1965, at the age of 70. She was survived by her second husband, her two children, four step-children, and several grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Americans Who Tell the Truth

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