Tag Archives: WPA

CROSS-COUNTRY CHRONICLE Catherine Ryan on Gloucester, MA in landmark FSA/OWI documentary photographs Part 2

 
American Photographer ARTHUR ROTHSTEIN (1915-1985)19 FSA photos in Gloucester, MA, September 1937
Joey recently featured Wallflowers, by Gordon Parks on GMG which reminded me of the road less traveled within the historic collection of photographs archived at the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library. This post is Part 2 in a series on Gloucester images in this legendary Farm Security Administration / Office of War Information (FSA/OWI) collection. You can go back to Part 1 about Gordon Parks and for some background about the program.
Arthur Rothstein is one of Roy Stryker’s elite team of FSA/OWI photographers. There are over 10,000 photos by Rothstein alone in the massive collection. Rothstein became a premier American photo journalist and the Director of LOOK (1947-1971) and Parade magazines.Director Roy Stryker brought recent graduate Arthur Rothstein to WashingtonDC to set up a state of the art dark room for the new Resettlement Administration Historical Section. In his senior year at ColumbiaUniversity, Rothstein had worked with professors Tugwell and Roy Stryker.Rothstein was 20. Stryker had him out in the field almost immediately. The job meant he had to learn how to drive a car.
In May 1936, Rothstein’s South Dakota Badlands drought images caused controversy then, and discussion still. Rothstein’s April 1936 Oklahoma photograph of a father and his two boys fleeing Mother Nature in CimmaronCounty may be the archetypal image of the Dust Bowl.Here are a few examples and flavor of a fraction of Rothstein’s FSA work (broad themes): Mother Nature/Disaster; migrant workers and flight (showing one from MT); Gees Bend; sense of humor.Those images are followed by a few he did in Gloucester. The people are not identified in the Arthur Rothstein Gloucester photos. He’s here in 1937, the same year that the movie adaptation of Captains Courageous is a big hit.

There’s an artist in action, seen from the back. Who is it?

“Migratory workers returning from day’s work. Robstown camp, Texas. Everyday from twenty to thirty cars moving out from the Dakotas pass the Montana Highway Department’s port of entry.”
COLLECTION QUICK FACTS The Farm Security Administration/ Office of War (FSA/OWI)Director throughout = Roy Stryker acting akin to visionary art dealer

Photographers = Pioneers in the field of photo journalism, photography, including Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Arthur Rothstein, and GordonParks

Library of Congress FSA/OWI collection = Nearly 280,000 objects as follows: black and white negatives (170,000+); black and white prints (100,000+); color photographs (1600+). New York Public Library has a substantial collection.

1937 Arthur Rothstein: 10,000+ images (FSA/OWI) / 19 images Gloucester.Mostly rural images. For example 1400+ images in MT and less than 40 total for MA

1942 Gordon Parks: 1600+ (FSA/OWI) / 220+ images Gloucester. Gloucester names to search for: Frank Mineo, the Alden, Vito Cannela, Vito Camella, Vito Coppola, Frank Domingos, Gaspar Favozza, Giacomo Frusteri, Vito Giocione, Pasquale Maniscaleo, Anonio Milietello, Anthony Parisi, Franasco Parisi, Dominic Tello, Antonio Tiaro, Lorenzo Scola, the Catherine C; Mary Machado, Isabell and Joseph Lopez, Dorothy and Macalo Vagos, Irene Vagos, Francis Vagos

1942 Howard Liberman: 700+ (FSA/OWI) / 150+ images Gloucester. Gloucester names to search for: John Ribiera and his wife, the vessel Old Glory There are many portraits and most are not identified. Please help.

1940 Dixon: 350+ (FSA/OWI) / one image of Gloucester; headed the lab in DC

Occasionally when Stryker or the artist considered a photograph a reject, he would punch a hole through the negative.

TIMELINE FOR SOME SPECIFIC IMAGE CONTEXT (primarily pre 1950)1900W.E.B. Du Bois receives a gold medal at the 1900 Paris Exposition for curating and collaborating on a major exhibit featuring 500 photographs displaying the present conditions of African Americans

1908-1917

Along with an extensive visual archive, the FSA team was extremely versed and/or required to study images. One example: Lewis Hine, a NYC school teacher and sociologist who stirred American consciences with his photos. Margaret Sage, the widow of railroad magnate, Russell Sage, established an endowment to research social sciences still active today. Hine’s Ellis Island photographs landed a staff position with the Foundation. His work for them produced their first influential impact: the Pittsburgh Survey. From there, Hines was hired by the National Child Labor Committee and his photographs over the next decade were instrumental in changing child labor laws. Also Stieglitz, Charles White, Paul Strand, and many others.

1924

Russel Smith’s North America, Its People and the Resources, Development, and Prospects of the Continent as an Agricultural, Industrial and Commercial Area

1925

Tugwell with Stryker and Thomas Munro: American Economic Life

1931

Hines was hired to photograph the construction of the EmpireStateBuilding. Ironically, despite his importance and direct influence on future photographers, the arc of his career ends with hard times. He was not included with the FSA hires.. The reception of Hines work declined so much that he was forced to sell his house. MoMA rejected his archives. George Eastman House took them in 1951.

1930s/40s

Paul Robeson. Period–International influence.

1931

The continued influence of Margaret Bourke-White. Her professional career took off in 1927. FORTUNE magazine sent her to cover Russia which published Eyes on Russia in 1931.

1932

Huge audience for Mervyn Leroy’s movie I Am A Fugitive from a Chain Gang

1934

FORTUNE magazine sends Margaret Bourke-White to cover the Dust Bowl

1935

Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibits in the US

1935-1937

The Resettlement Administration Historical Section’s photographic project is tasked with documenting the crisis state of rural poverty. The government hires Roy Stryker. Stryker hires the photographers. Many other Federal creative arts programs.

1935

The government sends Dorothea Lange to photograph migrant farm workers in CA. Lange, Walker Evans and Ben Shahn already established careers when hired for the FSA but not household names.

1935

Berenice Abbott Changing New York

1936

In November, LIFE magazine’s large-scale, photo dominant iteration is first published. LIFE sold more than 13 million copies per week

1936

The Plow that Broke the Plains, Pare Lorentz with Pauls Strand, Steiner, others

1937

The movie adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s Captain’s Courageous is a huge hit.

1937

FSA/OWI Arthur Rothstein is sent to Gloucester. Depression era movie audiences purchased 60 million tickets per week.

1937

LOOK magazine starts publishing bi-weekly

1937

You Have Seen Their Faces, photo-book collaboration by Erskine Caldwell and Margaret Bourke White is wildly successful so much so that it pushes back the publication of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee and Walker Evans (1941)

1937

The Resettlement Administration’s Historic Section folds into the Farm Security Administration (FSA). Stryker expands this photographic survey of Depression Era America, while publicizing the work of the FSA

1937/1939

Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men is published in 1937. The movie adaptation opens 1939.

1938

FSA group exhibit at the International Photographic Salon, Grand Central Palace, New York featured a selection of bleak but respectful images. Reviews felt that the photographers avoided negative stereotypes.

The tone of the exhibit was so influential that it was oft repeated. Stryker felt that well over ½ the images in the collection were affirmative and positive.

1938

Richard Wright hired for the WPA Writers Project guidebook for New York and wrote the part on Harlem. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship and was able to finish Native Son.

1938

Architectural Forum introduces Frank Lloyd Wright to American audiences. Managing Editor Ruth Goodhue was the first female at the head of any Time Inc publication, and a colleague of Stryker’s. Stryker credits RUTH GOODHUE* for propelling his encyclopedic quest to catalogue every day life with what sounds now like “a distinct sense of place”, 2014 placemaking terms. Her advice to Stryker echoes the later work of Jane Jacobs** “The Death and Life of Great American Cities”, the Main Street movement, and our current cultural district designations. Thirty years later Stryker credited numerous people, but he repeats his credit to Goodhue several times. Looking back, by the time 1940 rolls along, it’s Stryker’s creed. It’s thrilling how one inspirational comment can engender such a unique mobilization!

1939

An American Exodus, photo book collaboration by Dorothea Lange and Taylor

1939

FSA photos exhibited at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City

1939/1940

Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath is published and is phenomenally successful. The 1940 movie adaptation is a blockbuster, too.

1941

Richard Wright and Edwin Rosskam produce Twelve Million Black Voices. Migration coverage went to the city.

1941

Movies Citizen Kane (trailer 1940) and How Green Was My Valley

1942

Artists for Victory

1942

Gordon Parks’ position within Stryker’s department is underwritten with the support of a Julius Rosenwald Fellowship. Rosenwald was a partner in Sears Roebuck. His foundation operated from 1917-1948 with the mandate to focus on the well-being of mankind and with a particular education outreach for African Americans. The endowment was to be spent down completely and it’s estimated that 70 million was given. Of particular note, from 1928-1948 open-ended grants were given to African American writers, researches, and intellectuals and the list is a Who’s Who of 1930s and 1940s. This is precisely the type awarded to Gordon Parks so that he could work at the famous FSA program.

1942

Gordon Parks in Gloucester May and June. Howard Liberman in Gloucester, September.

1943

May Four Freedoms Day; October 20 America in the War exhibits

1942-45

FSA absorbed by the Office of War Information (OWI), focus shifts to the domestic impact of WWII

1955

Edward Steichen’s Family of Man exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art includes many of the photos

1962

The Bitter Years 1935-1941: Rural America Seen by Photographers of the FSA

Edward Steichen’s last and seminal exhibit as Director of the Museum of Modern Art is dedicated to Stryker and the FSA photographers. As with other FSA themed exhibits, photographs by Gordon Parks– and many other artists–were not included, still aren’t included.

1990/2000s

Gees Bend quilts

*Roy Stryker on Ruth Goodhue

“Ruth Goodhue was the managing editor of “Architectural Forum.” Her father designed the very famous Nebraska capitol, a very unusual building. She was another one on my circuit. But I stopped to have breakfast with her, she was over at that time in the Chrysler Building with the Life complex there and I had breakfast with her and I went up to her office. She was the one that said — I’ll tell you this story because it’s how I reacted so often — “Roy Stryker, I wonder if all towns of 5,000 are alike, because they have the same boiler plate, they have the same radio programs, and so on?” Well, I had to go on a trip and when I got back I had an outline on small towns.” Also:

“She was a charming woman and very bright and very proactive. And she said to me, “Are all little towns in America alike because they read the same boiler plate, listen to the same radios on the air, and because they eat the same breakfast food?” Proactive questions, just what I needed. I have a very bad habit of writing memos to myself; I love to put things down, write a page after page and take it home. By the time I got back to Washington, the photographers hadn’t been taking pictures of the little towns they went through. So then there grew an outline — a perfect bombardment of twenty-five pages, I guess. Did you stay overnight? Let’s begin to cover the main street of America, you know, just to see what the heck occurs on it.”

**Jane Jacobs

As writer and associate editor of The Iron Age, Jane Jacobs published “30,000 Unemployed and 7000 Empty Houses in Scranton, NeglectedCity”, an article which brought attention to her home town. This led to more freelance work and in 1943 a job writing features for the US Office of War Information (OWI). After 1945 and into the 1950s, Jacobs wrote and was editor for the State Department’s magazine branch, primarily for Amerika Illustrated, a Russian language magazine. In the public sector she went on to Architectural Forum. I wonder if Goodhue was a mentor for Jacobs or if they had any overlap. I certainly consider the FSA/OWI files as formative for her ideas — and Goodhue influenced that program.

Gloucester connections:

Charles Olson

In New York City 1937, Charles Olson was hired by the government to work for the American Council of Nationalities Services, an agency that offered support programs for immigrants and refugees. He also wrote for the Office of War Information from 1942 – May of 1944. The timing overlaps with Jane Jacobs somewhat. Gloucester writer, Edward Dahlberg, introduced Olson to Alfred Stieglitz in New York City back in 1937.

Goodhue and Cram

Ruth Goodhue’s father, Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, was a famous architect. Through his friendships with Ernest Fenollosa of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and others in the orb of the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts (1897), he met architect Ralph Adams Cram. Goodhue and Cram partnered to form a successful architectural firm, in business together for over twenty years. They had great solo careers, too.

Cram designed the Atwood Home, Gallery-on-the-Moors, in East Gloucester, and preliminary plans for the towers on Hammond Sr’s property, and the inspiration or more for Stillington Hall and others.

-Catherine Ryan / all photos Library of Congress, FSA/OWI black and white photography collection

Catherine Ryan on Gloucester, MA in landmark Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information (FSA/OWI) documentary photographs. Part 1

CROSS-COUNTRY CHRONICLE

Catherine Ryan on Gloucester, MA in landmark Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information (FSA/OWI) documentary photographs. Part 1

Hey, Joey,

Have a look at Gloucester from this important collection. First up—the Gordon Parks post. 1942.

FOBs may recognize some of the faces, names, places. You recently featured the ‘American Gothic’Wallflowers, by this super artist on GMG which reminded me of the road less traveled within this historic collection of photographs archived at the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library.

This post is Part 1 in a series on Gloucester images in this legendary FSA/OWI collection. If you are interested in the scope of any Gloucester material from this collection, we know that at least 4 of the FSA/OWI photographers came through Gloucester, MA. No surprise, each photographer took photo(s) of the Fisherman at the Wheel. They also show the impact of WWII. If you can id any of the Gloucesterpeople, please contact me. I’ve listed some known Gloucester names at the end of the post.

In 1934 during the Great Depression, Fortune magazine dispatched Margaret Bourke-White to cover the Dust Bowl. She sent additional images to the New Masses and the Nation.

In 1935, for one of its many New Deal programs, the US government sent photographers across the country on assignment. Initially their photographs were intended to illustrate the results of the country’s latest efforts to alleviate rural poverty.

Ultimately, they created a legendary photographic record of 1935-1945.

Here is a jaw-dropping list of established and future notables who Stryker hired for this incredible visual encyclopedia: Esther Bubley, John Collier, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee, GordonParks, Marion Post Walcott, Louise Rosskam, Arthur Rothstein, Ben Shahn, George Stoney, John Vachon, and Marion Post Walcott. Stryker also primed an extensive “orbit” of contacts and influence.

What is the FSA/OWI collection? (See explanation at the end of this post.)

American Photographer GORDON PARKS (1912-2006)

119 FSA/OWI photos for Gloucester, MA, May and June 1942

In 2012, the International Center of Photography in New York commemorated the centennial of GordonPark’s birth with a year-long installation featuring 50+ photos (one of the Gloucester ones was in there).

Gordon Parks believed the positive reaction he received for some of his early fashion images was his first break (Melva Louis, Joe Louis’ first wife). This support pushed him to set up a photography portrait business in Chicago. He also photographed out in the streets. He was inspired by Norman Alley’s bombing of Panay coverage (1937). FSA/OWI photographer Jack Delano saw his work and urged him to try to enter Stryker’s program via a Rosenwald fellowship. He was 30 when he was brought on board and thrilled to join this famous group. He was the first African American to be hired by Stryker. He worked there less than two years as the program ended. He followed Stryker into a commercial job. Gordon Parks was a man of dazzling talents. His FSA/OWI photos hint at his many future creative pursuits. This work though was rarely seen.
You can see Parks skilled portrait photographs: leaders of faith, presidents of universities, people working and at home, such as Mrs. Isabell Lopez of Gloucester, mother of 6 holding her grandchild.

There are celebrity portraits: Paul Robeson, Mrs. Roosevelt with Wang Yung, Langston Hughes, and Richard Wright. Portraits and fashion were his bread and butter back in Chicago, before landing a post with this famous group.

You can see Gordon Parks the social activist. From left to right: pushing for safer streets, e.g. protection for our kids (devastating streetcar accidents); Jim Crow train FLA; his famous ‘American Gothic’ portrait of Ella Watson who cleaned nights at the FSA government office in Washington, DC. Parks thought this image heavy handed; there is essentially what amounts to a still-photo mini documentary of Ella Watson at home, with her family and at work for more of her story.

Gordon Parks did 1 Gloucester protection/safety photograph, a dangerous crossing.

You can see Gordon Parks the fashion photographer. Welder on the left is Rosie the Riveter style; and on the right Mrs. Lopez’s daughter, at home Gloucester, MA. The still-lives are Duke Ellington’s colorful ties and one of Jay Thorpe’s Four Freedoms textiles.

You can see Gordon Parks the humanist: ordinary big moments with Girls Scouts at a memorial service,Gloucester, MA; New York state camps where kids and staff are made up of diverse backgrounds; AldenCaptain and crew are relaxed, easy company together while in New York.

You can glimpse Gordon Parks the musician/composer through the arts he selected to cover while on assignment for the FSA/OWI. Marian Anderson’s broadcast at a mural dedication commemorating her Lincoln Memorial concert. Duke Ellington and the Orchestra at the Hurricane Club Ballroom, in New York City, April 1943.

There are also photos of Ellington trying to hear his band; Betty Rocha singing with the Orchestra; and individual portraits of musicians Rex Stewart, Ray Nance, Juan Tizol, Sunny Greer, and Johnny Hodges. The caption for Hodges includes the song title played during his portrait session, “Don’t Get around Much Anymore.” Parks also photographed the Club staff and customers

You can see Gordon Parks the movie Director. Some of his FSA/OWI work looks ready for neorealist cinema. (Rome, Open City global 1946.) The image on the left features generations of the women of the Machado/Lopez family. The boys at the Leonard Craske Fisherman at the Wheel memorial are not identified (one close up).

The center mirror image reminds me of film school students and their emulation of Citizen Kane (1941) and other camera tricks. The image in the mirror is from one of Parks early assignments with the FSA. Mirrors and reflections tend toward symbolism anyhow. Parks is there photographing HowardUniversity. It feels like he snapped this on the sly when seen with the other ‘dailies’. It’s Thanksgiving Dinner and President of Howard University, Mordicai Johnson, is being served by an African American.

There’s scene shots: movie-scale streets and crowd shots teeming in NYC or downtown Gloucester. Gordon Parks filed 50+ pictures for the Nature of the Enemy show, the second exhibition of the “This is Our War” series of outdoor installations on the promenade of RockefellerCenter, May – July, 1943. ForGloucester, it’s Memorial Day services.

You can see GordonParks the photo journalist and author through the captions he wrote. For the Gloucester FSA/OWI photos there is a complete photo-journalism expose where he tracks a journey from sea to plate that begins in Gloucester and ends up in New York. The collaboration of GMG Gloucester photographers Kathy Chapman and Marty Luster Fish on Fridays series is such an interesting connection.

“The mackerel caught off the Gloucester coast ends up on the table of Mrs. Rose Carrendeno, NYC, for Friday’s supper. She prepared and served the fish that she bought earlier that day from Joseph DeMartino’s shop who buys his fish each morning from the Fulton Fish Market. She and her husband have three sons in the armed forces…She stops to chat with Mrs. DeMartino about the ration problems while Joseph DeMartino cleans the mackerel she has purchased.

“Fishermen’s families often make trips down from New England towns to be in New York when the ship arrives. The fishermen consider that nothing is too good for their families.”

Close up of Mrs. Carrendeno’s ingredients for FOB

What is the FSA/OWI collection?

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt selected a social economist from ColumbiaUniversity, Rexford Tugwell, as Undersecretary of Agriculture in 1934. One of Tugwell’s policy directives included new analysis of assistance for dislocated farmers. He enticed a protégé, economist Roy E. Stryker, to come with him toWashington to direct the Resettlement Administration’s Historical Section.

Stryker was the perfect hire, and successfully eked out the program from 1935-1942. He believed photography would be the key tool. At Columbia, he was a master at amassing visuals and presentations to illustrate economic topics. While a Professor, he insisted his students get out and survey what’s around them, walk “the field”, “see.”

The FSA/OWI photographers documented daily life, the effects of the Depression and WWII across the country, the problems our country was facing, Main Streets, landmarks, portraits, workers, communities and families. There is great range of intention, style, subject and theme across the collection.

Some of the FSA/OWI photographs received nearly instantaneous and phenomenal fame.

The reputation of this work was so respected, so known, that employment in this program would later open doors to grants and commercial jobs, and for several artists, launched long illustrious careers.

Stryker promoted and protected these artists and the work as the best art dealers do: fleshing out projects, orchestrating exhibits, doggedly getting their work out there to be seen, and placing it in print– whether for church pamphlets or major media publications, or into galleries and collections. When he moved back to the private sector, he hired them. Unlike the art created for some other WPA-era agencies that was lost or destroyed, Stryker and his team had the foresight to try to protect all of it for perpetuity. At the closure of this program, he sought approval from President Roosevelt to transfer the master collection to the Library of Congress (nearly 280,000 items) as part of our National Archives, which was granted. Throughout the program he shipped boxes of prints to the New York Public Library (41,000 items) so that there would be an additional repository if a safe haven in Washington, DC, did not come together. As a result there have been two outstanding collections to study and access. (Other collections and institutions have smaller holdings of vintage prints.)

The Library of Congress remains the primary source for use and research. Through the 1950s, one could check out vintage prints along with books at the NYPL. As with many collections, the same images were often requested over and over. The Library of Congress digitized their FSA/OWI collection in the late 1980s and has been deeply committed to ongoing technological updates. In 2005 the NYPL determined that 1000 photos in their collection were actually “new” discoveries; they put these on line in 2012.

There are over 270,000 items in the Library of Congress Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information (FSA/OWI) archives, all digitized. IF you haven’t seen these images in person, look for exhibitions of the true vintage prints. There are many iconic photographs. Some capture a gap between ideals and reality. They have been studied, published and featured many times over. As the Gloucester images show, the collection is not solely images of farmers, rural problems, and Western states.

-Catherine Ryan / – all photos Library of Congress, FSA/OWI black and white photography collection

To search Gordon Parks FSA/OWI photographs for Gloucester, type in key words

Fishermen on the ALDEN

  • Frank Mineo, owner/Captain of the ALDEN
  • Cannela, Vito
  • Camella, Vito
  • Coppola, Vito cook
  • Domingos, Frank
  • Favozza, Gaspar
  • Frusteri, Giacomo
  • Giocione, Vito
  • Maniscaleo, Pasquale (engineer)
  • Milietello, Antonio (oldest)
  • Parisi, Anthony
  • Parisi, Franasco
  • Tello, Dominic
  • Tiaro (or Tiano), Antonio
  • Scola, Lorenzo
  • One photo of the Catherine C

Gordon Pew Fisheries worker, Joseph Lopez and his family

  • Machado, Mary, 97 year old grandmother, grandmother 11 men in armed forces
  • Lopez, Isabell, (Mary Machado’s daughter)
  • Lopez, Joseph (Mary Machado’s son-in-law); They have 2 boys in the armed forces and 6 children all together
  • Vagos, Dorothy (daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lopez; husband Macalo)
  • Vagos, Macalo (son-in-law)
  • Vagos, Dorothy Jr (infant, great grandchild)
  • Vagos, Irene (has 2 boys and lives with mom/dad)
  • Vagos, Francis (Irene’s son)

Search for Gloucester landmarks. There are two or three photos in Rockport: the Pewter Shop and the owner Mrs. Whitney

Writings by Frank L. Cox – Portuguese in Gloucester 1870 – 1938

 

During a visit to Main Street Arts and Antiques at 124 Main Street, David the proprietor, and also a GMG Contributor, showed me some old writings by his father Frank.

These writings were for the United States WPA (Work Project  Administration) around 1938

Frank Cox Writer 001David thought that I may be interested in the writings, since it was about the Portuguese. I was born in the Azores and grew up here in Gloucester. I was very much interested. We both came to the conclusion, that we should capture these writings and share with others. Well we started by scanning the pages and creating a PDF document; however the old type written pages did not scan well, it was very difficult to read. Fred Buck from Cape Ann Museum encouraged us to have it transcribed.

One day I was talking to an old friend Joyce (Mitchell) Lacerda about the writings, and if she knew anyone who could transcribe the writings, she then offered to do it..

We added some photos and maps, and did some formatting for easy reading, but did NOT change Frank’s style or wording.

The final draft was printed, we than gave some copies to Cape Ann Museum.

We even sold a few to people that were interested, for about $20, which is basically our cost.  I believe David still has a few in his shop.

Frank also wrote about the “Finns in Gloucester”, which we are currently compiling.