Fun Fact of the Day: The Famous ‘Migrant Mother’ Photo Had 4 Other Exposures

The Famous 'Migrant Mother' Photo Had 4 Other Exposures

The ‘migrant mother’ photo above was captured by photographer Dorothea Lange in 1936 in California. The photo has since become a symbol of the Great Depression.

Little did I know that Lange took 5 shots in a row of this destitute mother and her 7 children in their make-shift tent. From the Library of Congress website:

“I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean- to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it.” (From: Popular Photography, Feb. 1960).

The caption for the shots from the LOC webs reads:

“Nipomo, Calif. Mar. 1936. Migrant agricultural worker’s family. Seven hungry children. Mother aged 32, the father is a native Californian. Destitute in a pea pickers camp, because of the failure of the early pea crop. These people had just sold their tent in order to buy food. Most of the 2,500 people in this camp were destitute.”

Here are the four other, lesser-published photos from the series.



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Image | This entry was posted in 20th Century, Family Life, Fun Fact of the Day, Historical Photos, Modern History, U.S. History, Women's History and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Fun Fact of the Day: The Famous ‘Migrant Mother’ Photo Had 4 Other Exposures

  1. moore314 says:

    Breaks my heart. What became of these children ~

  2. I know, right? In particular the photo where the mother has her shirt slightly undone, like she’s just fed her baby, gets me – one can’t imagine that a starving mother has much energy to breastfeed a baby. It’s amazing how one photo can portray starvation better than any essay on the Great Depression can.

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