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United States Labor History

Selected Primary Sources

The Great Depression: 1929-1939

Dorothea Lange's "Migrant Mother"

"I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean- to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it.  (From: Popular Photography, Feb. 1960)."

Dorothea Lange's "Migrant Mother"

(photo courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, DC 20540)