The Forgotten People
Dorothea Lange (1895-1965)
"On these workers the crops
of California depend . . . March 1, 1935."
and "More Oklahomans reach Calif. . .
Sketchbooks with gelatin silver prints
and ink notes, 1935
Prints and Photographs Division
Map of California Rural Rehabilitation
To harvest the crops (USZ62-69109)
Date pickers home (USZ62-1184)
"If I could earn $4.00 a week"
All races serve the crops in California
Squatters Camp of Texans
Map of California
Over this bridge ...
"Yes sir, born and raised in the state
of Texas" (USZ62-69106)
One hundred feet from the Yuma Bridge
Carrot pullers of .../ The hope of
Cleanliness - a struggle (USZ62-1182)
"What bothers us travellin' people
"We haven't had to have no help yet"
"It seems like God has forsaken us"
"How about that Townsend plan?"
"Lots left ahead of us ..."
When they met in November 1934, photographer Dorothea Lange (1895-1965)
and economist Paul Taylor (1895-1984) made a formidable team of
advocates for improving living conditions of migrant laborers. Their
illustrated reports provided clear accounts of the systemic causes
of the problems and the need for governmental response. Lange herself
selected, cropped, printed, mounted, and captioned the photographs
in the reports. Her captions incorporate the very words of the people
pictured, telling their own stories.
Armed with these forceful reports, H.E. Drobish, director of California's
Rural Rehabilitation Office of the Emergency Relief Administration,
stated in his request for federal funding to build housing camps
"These laborers stand at the foot of the socioeconomic
scale in our state....These are the `forgotten men, women, and children'
of rural California but on these people the crops of California
Between 1935 and 1943, Lange and other top-caliber photographers hired
by Roy Stryker of the Resettlement Administration produced what was
to become the world's best-known photographic survey, the Farm Security
Administration (FSA) collection. These report albums came to the Library
of Congress as part of that collection when it was transferred from
the FSA in the 1940s.