80th Anniversary of Dorothea Lange's 'Migrant Mother' Portrait

March 9, 2016

March 2016 is the 80th Anniversary of the San Fransisco News publishing of Dorothea Lange's famed Migrant Mother portrait, created in Nipomo, CA in 1936.  


March 1936: Portrait of Florence Owens Thompson known as

March 1936: Portrait of Florence Owens Thompson known as "Migrant Mother" taken in Nipomo, Calif., by Dorothea Lange. This is the retouched version.

The LA Times has shared first hand accounts of the day the iconic portrait was created.  Nearing on the end of her assignment for the Farm Security Administration, Lange was traveling to Berkley, passing through Nipomo just south of San Luis Obispo, when she spotted a pea-picker camp, home of Florence Owens Thompson.  She continued to drive, until she changed her course of travel.  In her own words:

“Having well convinced myself for 20 miles that I could continue on, I did the opposite. Almost without realizing what I was doing I made a U-turn on the empty highway. I went back those 20 miles and turned off the highway at that sign… 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 32. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds the the children killed. … The pea crop at Nipomo had frozen and there was no work for anybody. But I did not approach the tents or shelters of other stranded pea-pickers, It was not necessary; I knew I had recorded the essence of my assignment. ”
— Text from a 1960 Popular Photography Interview with Lange

Two of Lange's portraits were published in the San Francisco News on March 10, 1936 causing a snowballing influence on national headlines and exposure of Dorothea Lange's portrait across America.  Today, Migrant Mother is the most iconic and recognizable image of The Great Depression of the 1930's.

Read the article on LA Times Framework website accompanied by a photo gallery of 5 images of Florence Thomas taken by Dorothea Lange.

Source: http://framework.latimes.com/2016/03/09/80...

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