The more than 172,000 black-and-white and 1,600 color images that comprise the Farm Security Administration (FSA)/Office of War Information (OWI) Collection at the Library of Congress offer a detailed portrait of life in the United States from the years of the Great Depression through World War II.
Selected images from the works of FSA/OWI photographers Gordon Parks (1912–2006), Arthur Rothstein (1915–1985) and Carl Mydans (1907–2004) are now featured in the Library of Congress series titled “Fields of Vision.”
These new titles join the first six
volumes in the series, which feature
the work of FSA/OWI photographers
Russell Lee (1903–1987), Ben Shahn
(1898–1969), Marion Post Wolcott
(1910–1990), Esther Bubley (1921–1998), Jack Delano (1914–1997) and
John Vachon (1914–1975).
Edited by Amy Pastan, an independent editor and book packager, and published by D Giles Ltd. in association with the Library of Congress, each volume in the series includes an introduction to the work of the featured FSA photographer by a leading author.
Headed by Roy L. Stryker, the government’s documentary project employed many relatively unknown names who later became some of the 20th century’s best known photographers.
Gordon Parks, the only black FSA photographer, was “a Renaissance man,” writes Charles Johnson in his introduction to the volume. He was a writer, musician, poet, composer, photojournalist and motion-picture director, with many “firsts” to his credit. “The first black director in Hollywood, he opened the door for young auteurs, such as Spike Lee and John Singleton,” writes Johnson.
The youngest FSA photographer, Arthur Rothstein was “the truest child of the New Deal,” writes George Packer in his introductory essay. Fresh out of Columbia University with a belief in the government’s social-improvement efforts, Rothstein planned to earn money for medical school but shortly after joining the government project, he changed his career path. By the age of 25 he was a staff photographer for Look magazine and eventually became its director of photography. He joined Parade magazine in 1972 as director of photography and remained there until his death in 1985.
A graduate of Boston University’s School of Journalism, Carl Mydans was an experienced photographer with credits in Time magazine when he joined the documentary project in 1930. He later moved to the new magazine Life, and on to a celebrated career as a war photographer. Says author Annie Proulx, “He identified himself as a photojournalist and his interest in the massive global events of the time became his life.”
Each 63-page soft-cover volume in the series is available for $12.95 in bookstores throughout the U.S. and the UK, from D Giles Ltd. and the Library of Congress Shop, Washington, D.C., 20540-4985. Credit card orders are taken at (888) 682-3557, or shop on the Internet at www.loc. gov/shop/. Reproduction numbers are provided in the books so that reprints may be ordered through Duplication Services at the Library.
About the Contributing Authors
Charles Johnson is professor emeritus at the University of Washington, Seattle. He is a MacArthur Fellow and recipient of an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature and a National Book Award for his novel “Middle Passages.”
George Packer is a staff writer for The New Yorker and author of “The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq.” His play “Betrayed” won the 2008 Lucille Lortel Award for best off-Broadway play.
Annie Proulx is the author of “Postcards,” “Accordion Crimes” and “The Shipping News,” which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction and was made into a film in 2001. Her short story, “Brokeback Mountain” was adapted into a major motion picture.
About the Images
The Library’s Prints and Photographs Division houses more than 14 million visual materials. More than 1 million digitized images are accessible on the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. These include the more than 172,000 images that comprise the FSA/OWI Collection. The collection’s 1,600 color imagesare also accessible on the commercial photo site Flickr.