Just another class photo you say. Not really if you understand the back story. You will note the addition of one young man in the front row with the girls as the photographer tried to keep the image in balance. But back to the story. These students are 6th graders at the Park Hill School in North Little Rock, Arkansas. “Class Photo” (January 1935). These children appear to be happy, well-fed and well-groomed at the height of the Great Depression in a state hard hit by the times. Ben Shahn was a photographer commissioned by the Farm Security Administration to document the struggle of people in America during the Depression. Shanh spent time in Arkansas photographing rural scenes. Those of us familiar with his work and other photographers who fanned out across America have images in their minds of extreme suffering and poverty associated with the Great Depression. But here with the 6th graders in North Little Rock all seems well. So even in a state admittedly singled out for documentation by the Farm Security Administration, the Depression had uneven consequences for the population depending on geography. From this photo it would seem that the suffering was unequal and that North Little Rock fared better than other communities. This should not be surprising to us as we can clearly see at the present time the unequal effects of the coronavirus on communities across our nation.
DPI has an extensive collection of images related to coal mining and coal miners. This latest addition, “Coal Mine Town“; Appalachia c.1940 contains many of the elements of a typical coal mining town including the mine, steam shovel, railroad tracks and smokestacks in operation.
The demilitarized zone. Sure enough, with one million mines separating the Republic of Korea from the DPRK. Much has been written about the DMZ, and with the Trump-Kim Jong Un summit meeting underway in Hanoi it might pay to reflect just who or what the West is dealing with. I hope that these photos will be illuminating.
Yesterday, the launch of a new texting feature designed to inform our users of important breaking news and feature photos from our collection was successful. Within just a few minutes the photo “Blue Lives Matter“, taken of some members of the Memphis, Tennessee (c.1954) police department on the firing range was delivered to all of our users either by text or email depending on their preference. This launch was directed only to those users who have subscribed to our newsletter and had been announced in this blog, within our newsletter and on our Facebook page. We would suggest that for those who want to continue to receive these notifications to please provide us with a phone number rather than an email address if needed for breaking news.
One of the most respected photographers of the Farm Security Administration during the 1930s was Walker Evans. Evans’ subjects were varied, but he is perhaps best well known for his images of advertising signs. His work stands out from some of his contemporaries such as Arthur Rothstein, Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee, John Vachon, Marion Post Wolcott and others because of the uniqueness of his style.