Photogrammar: 170,000 photographs of America between 1935 and 1945

Telephone linemen at the Casa Grande Valley Farms, Pinal County, Arizona.

Between 1935 to 1945 the United States Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information commissioned photographers to document the situation of the agricultural communities of America after the depression and the great drought known as the “Dust Bowl” had thrown many people into poverty.

The university of Yale has now made these more than 170.000 photos that came out of these assignments available as a web-based project: You can use the search to pick out illustrious names like Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans or Gordon Parks – or just wander around the map of rural america at how many great photographers whose names have since been largely forgotten have been working on this project. And be humbled by the devastating struggle the people in these times went through.

On a side-note, I wonder how and based on what funds our lives will have been documented in eighty years from now: Will there be an archive of geocoded selfies? Will flickr still be on and have grown into a behemoth of cat-pictures of almost a century? With the shift from state-founded documentation towards a largely unorganized sprawl of privately and corporately organized photography, thes kind of gigantic, centrally organized endeavors have been replaced by make-shift. Yes, there are certainly many, many more pictures in the world today, but which of these pictures will still be there in a century? Or, to put it another way: When we’re all gone and our struggles forgotten, what picture of this will our descendants have left from us? A ton of Selfies?

 

 

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