Picturing Texas: The Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information Photographers in the Lone Star State, 1935-1943 Page: 18
The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
Ibid., 14. One example of the nature of their relationship is found in this intro-
spective comment by Stryker on the nature of the FSA project: "Every so often, I am
brought to a realization of the ruthlessness of the camera, particularly the way we have
been rising it: A lot of those people whose pictures you took do not realize how they are
going to look in the eyes of smug, smart city people when these pictures are reproduced.
Of course, we could turn right around, and put the camera on the smug, smart city peo-
ple. and make them ridiculous, too." Stryker to Lee, Mar. i9, 194o, Stryker Collection.
Stryker to I)oud, June 13, i964 (interview), transcript, p. S; "FSA History:
Interview with Roy Stryker. Autumn, i952 in John Vachon's Apartment," transcript, p.
48. This transcript is located in the Lange Collection at the Oakland Museum. A letter
from Stryker to Lee suggests that they approached Texas as a state project: "When you
have finished this particular set of photographs, of the better farms, the land, and the
lining pictures, then we will have done a pretty fair job of the state of Texas. Of course,
we can always find additional things to take, but the rest of the United States will have
to hold your attention now, for a while." Stryker to Lee, Mar. 19, I940, Stryker
2 Russell and Jean Lee to Doud, June 2, 1964 (interview), transcript, p. 8,
Archives of American Art.
Jean I.ee to autithor, June 2, i990 (interview).
Ibid. In September 1939, Lee wrote to Stryker, "Am anxious to take you on a trip
thrut sic] Texas-it is one of the best states of all." Lee to Stryker [Sept., i939], Stryker
- Maury Maverick Jr.. "A Shovel of Stars for Russell Lee," San Antonio Express-
.\News, Oct. I-, 1986. Roy Flukinger, curator of photography at the Harry Ransom
Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin, said, "Among 20th
century photographers, he was top-drawer. There were few equals and none better. He
expanded the human potential of photography to the utmost." Austin American Statesman,
Aug. jo, i986.
Russell l.ee materials are found at the Center for American History at the
University of Iexas at Austin, where his photographs of the Spanish-speaking people of
Tlexas [ca. 1949-195o are housed, and at the Southwestern Writers Collection at
Southwest Iexas State University in San Marcos.
D avid Montejano, Aglos and Mexicans in the Making of Texas, 1836-I986 (Austin:
University of Texas Press, i987), i91. Other ethnic groups photographed for propaganda
purposes included Swedes in Minnesota; Greeks, Poles, and Russians in Pennsylvania;
and IPorttguese fishermen in Rhode Island. Jack Delano discusses his work on such
assignments in Puerto Rico Mio: FlouTr Decades of Change (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian
Institution Press. 1990), 2.
'' Vachon, "Tribute," 99.
.o John Vachon to Mother, [May] 1937, Vachon Papers, used with permission of
the Vachon family; Stryker to Doud, Oct. 17, 1963 (interview), transcript, p. 7.
"' Lawrence J. Westbrook, unpublished memoirs, Chapt. 7, "Federal Emergency
Relief," 23, Lawrence J. Westbrook Papers (Texas Collection, Baylor University, Waco,
.2 Ray Marshall, James L. Walker, and R. Lynn Rittenoure, human Resource
Development in Rural Texas, Studies in Ituman Resource I)Development No. i (Austin: University of
Texas Press, I974), 24; Texas Almanac, 1949-5y (Dallas: A. H. Belo Corp., 1949), 96.
Missing from Census Bureau figures were the illegal aliens or "wetbacks." A definitive study
conducted in 1949 noted that estimates of their numbers ranged from ,oo0ooo to 5oo,ooo at
any given time. Lyle Saunders, The Spanish-Speaking Population of Texas, Inter-American
Education, Occasional Papers, vol. 5 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 949), I2.
' Stryker to Lange, Oct. 30, I935, Stryker Collection; Stryker to Dr. Harry Carman
(Columbia University), Oct. it, I935, ibid.
14 Roy E. Stryker, "Documentary Photography," in The Complete Photographer, ed.
Willard I). Morgan (to vols.; New York: National Educational Alliance, I942-1943), IV,
"'S Edward Steichen, "The F.S.A. Photographers," in Beaumont Newhall,
Photography: Essays and Images (New York: Museum of Modern Art, i98o), 269.
" Lawrence W. Levine, "The Historian and the Icon," in Fleischhauer and
Brannan (eds.), Documenting America, 36-37. The vast literature on the FSA project is sur-
veyed in Penelope Dixon, Photographers of the Farmn Security Administration: An Annotated
Bibliography, 1930-1980 (New York: Garland Publishing Co., 1983). As the title indicates,
the organizational approach is by photographer. This valuable work needs to be revised
and brought up to date.
The standard interpretation, basically sympathetic to Roy Stryker, is F. Jack Hurley,
Portrait of a Decade: Roy Stryker and the Development of Documentary Photography in the Thirties
(Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1972). More critical is Curtis, Mind's Eve,
Mind's Iruth, while the most authoritative account is Fleischhauer and Brannan (eds.),
Documenting America. For a spirited exchange, see F. Jack Hurley, "The Farm Security
Administration File: In and Out of Focus," History of Photography, XVII (Autumn, i991),
244-252, and replies by Sally Stein and James Curtis in the following issue (Winter,
The two major "coffee table"-style collections are Stryker and Wood, In ThIis Proud
Land, and Hank O'Neal, A Vision Shared: A Classic Portrait of America and Its People, 1935-1943
(New York: St. Martin's Press, 1976). These are also arranged primarily by photograph-
er. Recent studies which include analyses of the FSA-OWI project are David Peeler,
Hope Amomng Us Yet: Social Criticism and Social Solace in Depression America (Athens: University of
Georgia Press, I987); Pete Daniel, Merry A. Foresta, Maren Stange, and Sally Stein
Here’s what’s next.
This book can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Tools / Downloads
Get a copy of this page or view the extracted text.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Book.
Reid, Robert L., 1938-. Picturing Texas: The Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information Photographers in the Lone Star State, 1935-1943, book, 1994; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth296835/m1/30/: accessed October 17, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.