"Migrant baby in front of tent, Harlingen, Texas."
Many of the quarter-million or so photographs taken by FSA photographers were intended first and foremost to be persuasive images. As John D. Stoeckle and George Abbott White (Stoeckle and White, Plain Pictures of Plain Doctoring), who have studied the FSAs medical photographs, explain, " the FSA photographers identified previously ignored social evils which the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt was at pains to correct. The conditions of the rural dispossessed and the unemployed in small towns required images that would, in short, condemn. But it was not enough simply to record the worn-out land or the horrendous living conditions under which one-third of a nation (or more) was ill-housed, ill-clad, and ill-nourished. FSA cameras also had to focus on FSA programs that could work, and later in the 1930s after all that expenditure, were working. This second task required images that would celebrate." (Stoeckle and White, p. xv)
Other FSA images, though, are less overtly political, and chronicle the
experience of ordinary life for poor rural and small-town Americans. Among
these are many photographs depicting medical care.
Copyright © 1997, 2002 University of Pennsylvania HSS