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Biographies Unit Biographies

Dorothea Lange 1895–1965
Photographer

Dorothea Lange was a photographer whose pictures of struggling families during the Great Depression made her famous. Lange's photographs hang in art museums, but she didn't think of herself as an artist. She took pictures for a practical reason. She wanted to bring people's suffering to public attention and inspire others to help.

Lange decided to become a photographer when she was 18 years old. After working as a photographer's apprentice, she moved from New York to San Francisco and opened her own studio. Her first jobs were portraits of the wealthy, but Lange was more interested in people's everyday lives. In the 1930s, she started photographing men without jobs and people in bread lines. She was hired by the federal government to photograph farm families in California and the South. Later, she photographed the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Until her death, Lange photographed less fortunate Americans, showing their pride and dignity as well as their suffering.

Comprehension Check

Why did Dorothea Lange photograph farm families during the Depression?

Critical Thinking

Why did Lange's Depression-era photographs make her famous?