If you are not familiar with the name Dorothea Lange, at the very least you may recognize Lange’s iconic photograph “Migrant Mother.”
Throughout the 1920s, Dorothea Lange worked as a studio portrait photographer in San Francisco. However, by the height of the Great Depression, she turned her focus towards documenting people and her surroundings. As a documentary photographer, Lange “produced some of the most powerful and influential social-documentary photographs of the modern era.”1 Between 1935 and 1945, Lange worked for several federal agencies, most notably the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and the War Relocation Authority (WRA). After WWII, she pursued freelance photography and worked for Life as a staff photographer.
83-G includes photographs taken by Dorothea Lange (as well as Irving Rusinow), and document pre-World War II rural life and social institutions in Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania. While the NARA catalog includes GIF versions of 83-G, JPG and TIF copies can be downloaded from WikiCommons. We suggest that researchers use the National Archives Identifier (as opposed to the local ID number) when searching WikiCommons. The JPG and TIF versions are usually the third or fourth search result.
All of Lange’s photographs filed within 83-G can be viewed in the NARA catalog here.
Original Caption: “Cortaro Farms, Pinal County, Arizona. Migratory cotton picker on Cortaro Farms.” Photographer: Dorothea Lange. Date: November 1940. Local ID: 83-G-44339 (NAID 522508)
Original Caption: “Arvin, Kern County, California. One of a community of shacks in the subdivided orchard rented to agricultural workers on and off relief. Ex-tenant farmer from Oklahoma speaks, “I was raised in a time when every man hepped himself and the Lord hepped him. Now I haven’t made $5 since November 16, 1939. I’ve raised and matched 6 children back there in Osage County, I had a right smart place, but the land grabbers got me. It’s like a man buying a mule, they choose only the best of them. Worlds of them are left out. When I went to farming in 1914 some of them land grabbers was farming with a plow in those days like I was. But a small man can’t take the dry weather, the bugs, and all the rest that comes and make it. I stayed together as long as I could. A human being is a funny thing when he knows he’s gyped. He wants to take a change somewhere else. I reckon the AAA gyped me out of my share and put me on the road.” Photographer: Dorothea Lange. Date: April 11, 1940. Local ID: 83-G-41415 (NAID 521659)
Original Caption: “On Arizona Highway 87, south of Chandler. Maricopa County, Arizona. Children in a democracy. A migratory family living in a trailer in an open field. No sanitation, no water. They came from Amarillo, Texas. Pulled bolls near Amarillo, picked cotton near Roswell, New Mexico, and in Arizona. Plan to return to Amarillo at close of cotton picking season for work on WPA.” Photographer: Dorothea Lange. Date: November 1940. Local ID: 83-G-44358 (NAID 522527)
Original Caption: “Coolidge, Arizona. Indians, Negroes, Mexicans, and white Americans buy food, clothing, and seek recreation in town on Saturday afternoon.” Photographer: Dorothea Lange. Date: November 1940. Local ID: 83-G-44343 (NAID 522512)
Original Caption: “Pinal County, Arizona. Mexican boy age 13, coming in from cotton field at noon. He picked 27 pounds of Pima cotton (earnings about $.45) during the morning. Note stamped work ticket in his hand.” Photographer: Dorothea Lange. Date: November 1940. Local ID: 83-G-41839 (NAID 522044)
Original Caption: “Olivehurst, Yuba County, California. One of the new settlers.” Photographer: Dorothea Lange. Date: March 19, 1940. Local ID: 83-G-41344 (NAID 521585)
Original Caption: “Near Buckeye, Maricopa County, Arizona. Migrant [African-American] cotton picker and her baby.” Photographer: Dorothea Lange. Date: November 1940. Local ID: 83-G-44371 (NAID 522540)
Record Group 210, Series G
The War Relocation Authority hired Lange, and other photographers, to document Japanese neighborhoods, evacuation processing centers, and internment camp facilities. The photographs in 210-G show Japanese-Americans at home prior to evacuation; evacuees at assembly centers; internee activities at each of the ten relocation centers; Nisei servicemen and women at awards ceremonies or on leave; and property formerly owned by Japanese-Americans, but vandalized, deserted, or taken over by Chinese-Americans.
Researchers can view and download many of Lange’s images filed within 210-G from the NARA catalog here. Please note that most of the 210-G scans in the catalog are available as TIFs. That said, JPG versions may also be found via WikiCommons.
Original Caption: “Centerville, California. This evacuee stands by her baggage as she waits for evacuation bus. Evacuees of Japanese ancestry will be housed in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration.” Photographer: Dorothea Lange. Date: May 9, 1942. Local ID: 210-G-C241 (NAID 537588)
Original Caption: “Florin, Sacramento County, California. A soldier and his mother in a strawberry field. The soldier, age 23, volunteered July 10, 1941, and is stationed at Camp Leonard Wood, Missouri. He was furloughed to help his mother and family prepare for their evacuation. He is the youngest of six years children, two of them volunteers in United States Army. The mother, age 53, came from Japan 37 years ago. Her husband died 21 years ago, leaving her to raise six children. She worked in a strawbery basket factory until last year when her children leased three acres of strawberries “so she wouldn’t have to work for somebody else”. The family is Buddhist. This is her youngest son. Her second son is in the army stationed at Fort Bliss. 453 families are to be evacuated from this area.” Photographer: Dorothea Lange. Date: May 11, 1942. Local ID: 210-G-A584 (NAID 536474)
Original Caption: “Woodland, California. Member of a farm family of Japanese ancestry the day preceding evacuation. He said, “I am going to have a vacation– a long one–I had no long vacation since I was born.” Photographer: Dorothea Lange. Date: May 20, 1942. Local ID: 210-G-C441 (NAID 537761)
Original Caption: “San Lorenzo, California. Washday 48 hours before evacuation of persons of Japanese ancestry from this farming community in Santa Clara County. Evacuees will be housed in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration.” Photographer: Dorothea Lange. Date: May 5, 1942. Local ID: 210-G-C193 (NAID 537542)
Original Caption: “Sacramento, California. College students of Japanese ancestry who have been evacuated from Sacramento to the Assembly Center.” Photographer: Dorothea Lange. Date: May 20, 1942. Local ID: 210-G-C471 (NAID 537785)
Original Caption: “Byron, California. Families of Japanese ancestry, evacuated from Contra Costa County, await bus which will transport them to assembly center at Turlock fairgrounds, 65 miles away. Evacuees will be transferred to War Relocation Authority centers where they will spend the duration.” Photographer: Dorothea Lange. Date: May 2, 1942. Local ID: 210-G-C101 (NAID 537456)
Original Caption: “San Francisco, California. Saturday afternoon shoppers reading order directing evacuation of persons of Japanese ancestry. This store on Grant Avenue in Chinatown was vacated by an art dealer of Japanese descent. Evacuees will be housed in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration.” Photographer: Dorothea Lange. Date: April 17, 1942. Local ID: 210-G-A41 (NAID 536019)
For more information about the FSA-OWI collection at the Library of Congress, please visit their website here. Additional information about the role of the FSA photography unit can be found here.
It should also be noted that there are copies of Dorothea Lange photographs filed among records of related federal agencies. To see all items in the NARA catalog attributed to Dorothea Lange, please visit this page. Researchers may also send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publication Notice and Citations
Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother photo, as well as all of the photographs within 83-G and 210-G, are unrestricted and may be used freely. Please review our publication statement below.
PUBLICATION OF PHOTOGRAPHS FURNISHED BY THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES STILL PICTURE BRANCH-RRSS
Generally, copies of photographic records held by the National Archives may be published without special permission or additional fees. The National Archives does not grant exclusive or non-exclusive publication privileges. Copies of Federal records, as part of the public domain, are equally available to all. A small percentage of photographs in our holdings are or may be subject to copyright restrictions. The National Archives does not confirm the copyright status of photographs but will provide any information known about said status. It is the user’s responsibility to obtain all necessary clearances. Any use of these items is made at the researcher’s or purchaser’s own risk.
Proper credit lines are encouraged in the interest of good documentation. They also help inform the public about government photographic resources that are available.
*Because so many of our requests for information cite credits and captions that appear in published works, the inclusion of a photo number in hard copy and electronic publications is of great assistance to both us and the public.
Examples of preferred credit lines are as follows:
National Archives photo no. 210-G-C241
Credit National Archives (photo no. 83-G-41368)
Courtesy National Archives, photo no. 83-G-41430
National Archives (210-G-A14)
If using a large number of our images, the National Archives will appreciate receiving copies of publications that contain our photographs. Such copies can be sent to the Still Picture Branch or the Library, National Archives and Records Administration.