Edison, Kern County, California, Young Migratory Mother, Originally from Texas


"Young migratory mother, originally from Texas. On the day before the photograph was made she and her husband traveled 35 miles each way to pick peas. They worked 5 hours each and together earned $2.25. They have two young children... Live in auto camp." This photograph and the accompanying description are by Dorothea Lange (1895-1965), one of the most important American photographers of the 20th century. After apprenticing in New York City, Lange moved to San Francisco and in 1919 established her own studio. During the 1920s and early 1930s, she worked as a portrait photographer. In 1932, wanting to see a world different from the society families she had been photographing, she began shooting San Francisco's labor unrest and urban unemployed. In 1935, she accepted a position as a staff photographer with the Federal Resettlement Administration, later renamed the Farm Security Administration. Her new job took her to the South, where she documented small towns, the lives of tenant farmers, and experimental agricultural communities. Returning to the West, Lange focused on the lives of migrant workers. In 1940, she was hired by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics to produce photographs for a series of community studies in California and Arizona.

Last updated: September 22, 2014