Dorothea Lange: Photographer of the Ozarks

Lange - Fayetteville Square
Two men stand by a sign asking voters to re-elect Claude Fuller to U.S. Congress in this photo taken on the Fayetteville square in the late 1930s by photographer Dorothea Lange.

The Works Progress Administration during President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration hired many unemployed men and women to carry out various jobs for the government. The WPA programs included the Farm Security Division, where photographer Dorothea Lange traveled to rural America to collect Depression-era images. She is probably best known for her photos Migrant Mother photo, taken in 1936 in Nipomo, California.

Not as well known are her photos she took in Arkansas in 1938 and 1939. Thanks to the Library of Congress, however, they’re available in a searchable database. Her series of photographs of the Ozarks include two elderly men standing on the Fayetteville square next to a Fuller for Congress sign and what appears to be two farmers standing next to what could be a Ford Model A in downtown Rogers. She also shot a scenic photograph of the Ozarks featured at the top of the page as the banner for  the Echoes of the Ozarks website.

Lange - Rogers square
Photographer Dorothea Lange captured these men visiting in downtown Rogers.

But here’s why the Library of Congress’ database is great: There are so many images of the Arkansas Ozarks besides Lange’s, such those by those of Arthur Rothstein, best known for his documentation of the Dust Bowl during the 1930s. Of course, one could get lost just surfing the database for images of other states, places and events in history from bygone eras.

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