FSA/OWI Favorites
“Migrant Mother,” by Dorothea Lange, is the most famous photo in the Library of Congress. This 1936 portrait of Florence Thompson and her children symbolizes both economic hardship and the strength to survive. The Library is honored to preserve Lange's original camera negative and makes the digitized photo freely available.

"Migrant Mother" is part of a landmark photo documentary project based in the U.S. Resettlement Administration, the Farm Security Administration (FSA), and later the Office of War Information (OWI). The most active years were 1935-1943, and the entire collection was transferred to us in 1944.

“FSA/OWI Favorites” features 10 of the most frequently requested photos plus 15 staff selections to introduce you to the vast archive of about 170,000 negatives and 107,000 prints of life in America during the Great Depression and World War II.

Go to the FSA/OWI Collection in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC) at LOC to explore more of these amazing photos by gifted photographers who worked with 35mm and large format sheet film. The digital resolution for most images is admittedly low, since the scanning was done in the mid-1990s.

You can jump into the collection in PPOC by typing a word likely to appear in a photo title, for example, “children,” “migrant,” “Fourth of July,” “house,” or “factory.” You can also browse for a place name or pick a photographer’s name from an index.

Don’t miss the “DISPLAY IMAGES WITH NEIGHBORING CALL NUMBERS” feature. It’s a great way to see related images in a photo story, including many negatives never printed (or captioned) for the FSA/OWI files. Looking at the outtakes helps understand the photographers and the selected stories. Mostly, it's a fun way to walk through history.


Migrant Mother

Bibliography & Related Resources

Portraits of photographers

Color FSA/OWI photos on Flickr


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