Migrant Mother Story And Facts?

There is a famous photograph referred to as the Migrant Mother. The photo was taken by a photographer at a Migrant work camp in 1936. I was told in class the mother pictured was Florence Owens Thompson who at the time was the mother of 7 children. Two of her children are in the picture too, the little girl is now an old woman.
I need to prepare something for school about the Migrant Mother. What is the story behind the photograph and what are some interesting facts?

asked by Hope in History | 5876 views | 02-22-2010 at 09:17 PM

The photograph became an icon of the Great Depression: a migrant mother with her children burying their faces in her shoulder.
This is the iconic picture:

migrant mother story and facts

Story of the photograph:

Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” was photographed in February 1936 in a pea pickers’ camp in Nipomo, California, while on assignment as a photographer for the Resettlement Administration (RA), which soon would become the better-known Farm Security Administration (FSA). As Lange told the story years later, the decision to stop at the pea picker’s camp was fortuitous. She was driving home after a month in the field when she happened upon a sign identifying the camp. She tried to ignore the sign and drive on, but after twenty miles she was compelled to return to the camp, “following instinct, not reason.” She shot six photographs in a very short period of time of the woman and members of her family, starting at a distance and working her way closer and closer after the fashion of a portrait photographer.

Florence Owens Thompson was the subject of Dorothea Lange's photo Migrant Mother (1936), an iconic image of the Great Depression. The Library of Congress entitled the Migrant Mother image, Destitute pea pickers in California. Mother of seven children. Age thirty-two. Nipomo, California. Thompson's daughter Katherine (to the left of the frame) said in a December 2008 interview that the photo's fame made the family feel shame at their poverty. She also said her mother was a "very strong lady" who liked to have a good time and listen to music, especially the yodeler named Montana Slim.

As the country languishes in economic depths not seen since the Great Depression, and California endures an unemployment rate of 11.9 percent, Thompson's image is once again striking a chord.

This is another picture that was taken the same day.

migrant mother pic 2

Some facts:

- The photograph that has become known as "Migrant Mother" is one of a series of photographs that Dorothea Lange made of Florence Owens Thompson and her children in February or March of 1936 in Nipomo, California.

- The images were made using a Graflex camera. The original negatives are 4x5" film. It is not possible to determine on the basis of the negative numbers (which were assigned later at the Resettlement Administration) the order in which the photographs were taken.

- There are no known restrictions on the use of Lange's "Migrant Mother" images.

answered by Samuel | 02-22-2010 at 09:29 PM

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