Looking at Dorothea Lange

(Dorothea Lange) Migrant Mother in Nipomo, California, 1936. Lange’s original caption: “Destitute peapickers in California; a 32 year old mother of seven children. February 1936.”
(Dorothea Lange) Migrant Mother in Nipomo, California, 1936. Lange’s original caption: “Destitute peapickers in California; a 32 year old mother of seven children. February 1936.”

MIT Professor Anne Whiston Spirn, whose book is called "Daring to Look: Dorothea Lange's Photographs & Reports from the Field," writes about how Dorothea Lange, the photographer hired in the New Deal to document the plight of migrant workers, revealed much more than meets the eye about the poverty-stricken people in her photos. Professor Spirn traveled to the areas that Lange photographed, and compares then & now.

(Lange) July 5, 1939. Women of the congregation of Wheeley's Church in North Carolina.  This photo inspired Professor Anne Whiston Spirn to delve into the work of Lange. Lange’s original caption: “Women of the congregation on the church steps with brooms and buckets. They have assembled to be photographed.”
(Lange) July 5, 1939. Women of the congregation of Wheeley's Church in North Carolina. This photo inspired Professor Anne Whiston Spirn to delve into the work of Lange. Lange’s original caption: “Women of the congregation on the church steps with brooms and buckets. They have assembled to be photographed.”
(Lange) Lange’s original caption: “Near Meloland, Imperial Valley. Feb. 1939. Large-scale agriculture. Gang labor, Mexican and white from the Southwest. Pull, clean, tie, and crate carrots for the eastern market for 11¢ per crate of 48 bunches. Many can make barely $1 a day. Heavy over-supply of labor and competition for jobs is keen.”
(Lange) Lange’s original caption: “Near Meloland, Imperial Valley. Feb. 1939. Large-scale agriculture. Gang labor, Mexican and white from the Southwest. Pull, clean, tie, and crate carrots for the eastern market for 11¢ per crate of 48 bunches. Many can make barely $1 a day. Heavy over-supply of labor and competition for jobs is keen.”
(Anne Whiston Spirn) January 13, 2009. Near Brawley, Imperial Valley, California. Workers cut, pack, and load broccoli in the field. 85-90 percent of these workers are Mexicans who cross the border every day between 3-4AM in order to obtain work.
(Anne Whiston Spirn) January 13, 2009. Near Brawley, Imperial Valley, California. Workers cut, pack, and load broccoli in the field. 85-90 percent of these workers are Mexicans who cross the border every day between 3-4AM in order to obtain work.
(Lange) Lange’s original caption: “October 15, 1939. Dead Ox Flat, Malheur County, Oregon. The Wardlaw couple at entrance of basement dugout home.”
(Lange) Lange’s original caption: “October 15, 1939. Dead Ox Flat, Malheur County, Oregon. The Wardlaw couple at entrance of basement dugout home.”
(Lange) Lange’s original caption: “October 16, 1939. Malheur County, Oregon. Shows siphon, 5 miles long, 8 feet in diameter, which carries water to Dead Ox Flat. This is the world’s longest siphon.”
(Lange) Lange’s original caption: “October 16, 1939. Malheur County, Oregon. Shows siphon, 5 miles long, 8 feet in diameter, which carries water to Dead Ox Flat. This is the world’s longest siphon.”
(Anne Whiston Spirn) July 27, 2006, Malheur County, Oregon. Malheur Butte and siphon seen from below Ontario Heights on the opposite side of the valley from Dorothea Lange’s 1939 photograph.
(Anne Whiston Spirn) July 27, 2006, Malheur County, Oregon. Malheur Butte and siphon seen from below Ontario Heights on the opposite side of the valley from Dorothea Lange’s 1939 photograph.
(Lange) Lange’s original caption: “October 14, 1939. Nyssa, Malheur County, Oregon. Sign on old bank building which now houses the office of the Bureau of Reclamation.”
(Lange) Lange’s original caption: “October 14, 1939. Nyssa, Malheur County, Oregon. Sign on old bank building which now houses the office of the Bureau of Reclamation.”
(Anne Whiston Spirn) May 17, 2005, Nyssa, Oregon. Building is the office of the Owyhee Irrigation District, and the Hotel Western is a museum.
(Anne Whiston Spirn) May 17, 2005, Nyssa, Oregon. Building is the office of the Owyhee Irrigation District, and the Hotel Western is a museum.

This program aired on March 6, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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