The Library of Congress and a group of the country’s top photographers recently announced a collaboration to facilitate the archiving and publication of a major documentary photo project.
The group, known as Facing Change: Documenting America, serves as a contemporary counterpart to the photographers employed in the 1930s and 1940s by the Farm Security Administration, a federal project that documented the experiences of Americans at all economic levels during the Great Depression and World War II. Those period photographs—including work by such iconic names in photography as Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans and Gordon Parks—are now available to the public through the Library of Congress, which holds them in its Farm Security Administration Collection in the Prints and Photographs Division. All 175,000 of the historic images also are online at www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/fsac/.
The collaborative agreement will allow the Library to publish books based on the Facing Change images, which document numerous aspects of contemporary American life through photographs, sound and video files. The Library will begin by exploring born-digital archiving and preservation practices with the Facing Change photographers, building on experience gained through the Library’s National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program, www.digitalpreservation.gov.
“Looking forward 50 or 60 years we feel confident that the documentation provided in these contemporary photographs will be treasured by historians, photographers and the public—much as the FSA collection, which arrived newly minted back in the 1940s, is treasured by all those groups today,” said Helena Zinkham, chief of the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division.
Facing Change was founded in 2009 by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographers Anthony Suau and Lucian Perkins.
“Our vision … was to create a nonprofit collective comprised of the most talented photographers and journalists currently working in the U.S. and to embrace an interactive technology platform which connects our work to the public,” Suau said.
Facing Change is incorporated as a 501(c)3 charitable organization, and derives its funding from private foundations and public entities including the Soros Foundation, Leica Cameras, FrenchTV, and Photoshelter. It currently exhibits its photography at www.facingchange.org.
The Prints and Photographs Division is responsible for acquiring, preserving, securing, processing and serving the Library’s unique and vast collection of visual materials, which includes more than 14 million photographs, historical prints, posters, cartoons, fine art prints, and architectural and engineering designs. While international in scope, the collections are particularly strong in materials documenting the history of the United States and the lives, interests, and achievements of the American people.