Tuesday, October 6, 2015

WPA Photographs Made Accessible to All

Yale University has now gone live with a new website that gives us easy access to the more than 170,000 photographs of the United States made by Farm Service Administration photographers between 1935 and 1945. 

Called Photogrammar, this site enables you to zoom into any part of the USA, and on a county-by county or specific-location-by-specific-location basis you can explore this vast collection of Depression- and World War II-era photographs. 

The site is also searchable by photographer as well as geographic location, which makes it easy to find the image above, made by Marion Post Wolcott in 1938, near Wadesboro, NC, where I was born seven years after Wolcott took this picture.

You can also find quickly the complete bodies of work done for the Works Progress Administration by Walker Evans or Dorothea Lange.

Or the photograph below, made by an unknown photographer near Wadesboro in 1941, of a Jeep crossing rough terrain pulling a thirty-seven millimeter anti-tank gun during maneuvers in preparation for America's entry in World War II. 

I remember my father -- an inveterate collector of cast-off stuff -- showing me various bits and pieces of military gear he collected when it was left behind by soldiers on these maneuvers.

 The Yale site makes all this work more accessible than it is on the Library of Congress website

The advantage of the Library of Congress site is that you can download high resolution files of these images, so you can print yourself your own copy of Lange's Migrant Mother or any of the other images from these folks in this era of their work. 

Many of the iconic images of the American South -- as well as many just as powerful but less well known -- await our discovery on Photogrammar -- check it out!


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