Skip to main content Black and white iconic photo of Migrant Mother during the Great Depression by Dorothea Lange

Introducing America

March 17, 2012 - May 27, 2012

In 1936, documentary photographer Dorothea Lange took five images of a 32-year-old mother of seven and a destitute pea picker on a migratory farm in California, including one image called, “Migrant Mother,” which became an icon of the Great Depression. Lange, on assignment for the Farm Security Administration (FSA), said that the woman told her that the family was subsisting on frozen vegetables and birds that her children killed.

Many of the FSA photographers, like Lange, are recognized today as leaders in documentary photography. Included in the exhibition are some of the first color photographs shot in the country by Russell Lee, Jack Delano, John Vashon and Marion Post Wolcott. The narrative and compositional qualities of this photography is outstanding, providing an intimate and personal look into the mood and spirit of a country and citizenship trying to establish itself.