Photographing America: The Farm Security Administration
When we think about the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, and the iconic images of rural America in the 1930s and early 1940s, we envision photographs made by the Farm Security Administration (1935–43). Known first as the Resettlement Administration, the Farm Security Administration was a federal project that sent photographers all over the country documenting America. Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother,” Arthur Rothstein’s “Farmer and sons walking in the face of a dust storm”, Walker Evans’ storefronts, and Gordon Parks’ picture of an African American charwoman, “American Gothic” – his first professional photograph, taken in the FSA building – were all made for the Farm Security Administration (FSA).
The Farm Security Administration in Kentucky 1935–1943
Marion Post Wolcott, Ben Shahn, Russell Lee and John Vachon photographed in Kentucky for the FSA. Together, they made a unique visual record of Kentucky during this critical time in our nation’s history. All of their work is housed in the Library of Congress.
This is the work that inspired the next two iterations of the Project.
These great photographers inspired us to complete our first project in the mid ’70s. Read about the 1970s Project here. More recently, we decided to produce another iteration of the project and to hopefully inspire a future generation of photographers to produce yet another iteration in 40 years. Read about what we are doing now here.
There is much left to be done. Will you help?
The third iteration of the Kentucky Documentary Photographic Project, when finished, will be presented as a book, exhibitions, a permanent collection, and whatever multi-media presentations the Project adapts to. Younger photographers will be tasked with keeping the Project alive and producing the fourth iteration forty years from now.
Much has been done, but much is still left to do. We ask for your help in continuing to document Kentucky.