September 23, 2008 Pulitzer Prize Winner To Discuss New Library of Congress Depression-Era Photography Books
Press Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217
Timothy Egan, a Pulitzer Prize winner and writer for The New York Times, has written the introduction to “The Photographs of Ben Shahn,” one of three Library of Congress-published books in the “Fields of Vision” series. He will lead a discussion of the photos of the Farm Security Administration focusing on the three photographers in the series: Ben Shahn, Russell Lee and Marion Post Wolcott. The program is co-sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and the Library’s Publishing Office with cooperation from the Prints and the Photographs Division and the American Folklife Center. It is part of the Center for the Book’s Books & Beyond author series. The discussion will be held on Thursday, Oct. 16, at 6 p.m. in the Montpelier Room, sixth floor of the Madison Building, at 101 Independence Ave. S.E. The event is free and open to the public; no tickets are required. Selected images from the works of photographers Russell Lee (1903-1987), Ben Shahn (1898-1969) and Marion Post Wolcott (1910-1990) are featured in the three volumes in “Fields of Vision.” Edited by Amy Pastan, an independent editor formerly with the Smithsonian Institution Press, each volume in the series includes an introduction to the work of the featured FSA photographer by a leading contemporary author or writer. In his introduction, Nicholas Lemann, dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, compares the photography of Russell Lee with "what Toqueville did as a social observer, or Dos Passos as a novelist, or John Gunther as a journalist." Egan reminds us that while Ben Shahn documented the brutality of the Great Depression through his photography, "he was an optimist … He thought if he showed you the human being behind the coarsened shell, you would be moved, as he was, to do something." Novelist Francine Prose writes about Marion Post Wolcott’s "brief, productive and action-packed career … that revealed "an eye for the telling marks that we humans engrave, and leave, on the earth." Each book in the series presents 50 striking images by each photographer that demonstrate how their vision helped shape the collective identity of America. Reproduction numbers are provided so that reprints may be ordered through the Library’s Photoduplication Service. The series is published by the Library of Congress in association with GILES, an imprint of D. Giles Limited, London. Each 63-page soft-cover volume is available for $12.95 in the Library’s Sales 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/. The books will also be for sale and signing at this event. Egan will also sign copies of his “The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl,” which will also be for sale. The Library of Congress, the nation's oldest federal cultural institution, is the world's preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled collections and integrated resources to Congress and the American people. Many of the Library’s rich resources and treasures may also be accessed through the Library’s Web site www.loc.gov and via interactive exhibitions on a new, personalized Web site at www.myLOC.gov. The Center for the Book was created in 1977 to stimulate public interest in books and reading. For information about its program, publications and national reading-promotion networks, visit www.loc.gov/cfbook/. The Library’s Prints and Photographs Division houses almost 14 million visual materials. More than 1 million digitized images are accessible on the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog at www.loc.gov/rr/print/catalog.html. These include the more than 170,000 images that comprise the FSA/OWI Collection (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/pp/fsacabt.html). The collection’s 1,600 color images are also accessible through the online photo sharing community known as Flickr, at www.flickr.com/photos/library_of_congress/sets/72157603671370361/.