|FSA - Farm Security Administration: Examples |
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The photographs taken under the auspices of the FSA - Farm Security Agency in the United States and associated Federal programs during the 1930s and into the 1940s remain one of the most significant, and best known, with the genre of Great Depression and devastated on the Great Plains by drought, black blizzards, sharecropping, tenant farming, and foreclosed bank loans that made life untenable in large tracts of the country. Mass migrations of rural poor sought out work and places to re-establish lives. This is the period of The Grapes of Wrath (1939) in which the fictitious Joad family struggle to survive..
Roy Stryker provided the leadership to the photographic branch of the FSA and brought together a varied group of personalities some who responded well to being set projects and timelines and others who were more difficult to control. The role of the photographic side of the FSA was to create an image bank that could be used by the press, government departments and agencies.
If the photographers at the time appreciated the long term impact of their work is debatable. What has occurred over the intervening years is an increasing interest in history and photography - these combined with PBS programs have made the material better known and it serves as the raw visual material for innumerable school and university projects. Another factor, which is often overlooked, is the cost of reproductions for publishing - as FSA photographs were taken under the auspices of the Federal government they are copyright free meaning there is no cost to publish. This means that it is economically advantageous to include them in publications in the place of other images where there are costs.
- Λ Farm, Security Administration (FSA), established by Secretary's Memorandum 732, September 1, 1937.
- Λ The literature on the FSA is vast and almost all the photographers involved have monographs on their work.
For general overviews - Pete Daniel et al., 1987, Official Images: New Deal Photography, (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution); F. Jack Hurley, 1972, Portrait of a Decade: Roy Stryker and the Development of Documentary Photography in the Thirties, (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press); Françoise Poos (ed.), Jean Back, Gabriel Bauret & Antoinette Lorang, 2012, The Bitter Years: Edward Steichen and the Farm Security Administration Photographs, (D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers); William Stott, 1986, Documentary Expression and Thirties America, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press); Roy Stryker & Nancy Wood, 1975, In This Proud Land: America 1935–1943 as Seen in FSA Photographs, (Boston: New York Graphic Society); Alan Trachtenberg & Lawrence W, Levine, 1988, Documenting America, 1935–1943, (Berkeley: University of California Press)
- Λ Photographer Horace Bristol collaborated with John Steinbeck on a project documenting the difficulties of migrant workers in California and this became the driving force for the American classic novel - John Steinbeck, 1939, The Grapes of Wrath, (The Viking Press - James Lloyd)
- Λ Alan Griffiths: This is a contentious statement and I'd welcome pro and con arguments.
- Λ "Surviving the Dust Bowl", American Experience, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), USA
(Accessed: 10 October 2014)
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