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Exploring Dorothea Lange’s Photographs Online

(These three images are taken from the Library of Congress’ collection of Dorothea Lange photographs)

This year our One Book, One Community novel is The Bohemians by Jasmin Darznik, an historical fiction account of Dorothea Lange’s early years in San Francisco.

As portrayed in the book, Lange started out as a portrait photographer in San Francisco. Seeing the devastation that the Depression brought to individual lives in that city changed the course of her career and her life, as she dedicated her craft and the rest of her life to making portraits of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.

For me, reading The Bohemians sparked a curiosity about Lange’s photographs. I read a few more books, watched the documentary “Grab a Hunk of Lightning” (see below), and became intrigued by her work. I was thrilled, therefore, to find that so many of Lange’s photographs are available online.  

If you’ve become fascinated by Dorothea Lange’s photographs and stories as I have, here are places to find Lange’s photos online as well as more information about her. (Click on the name of the archive to follow the link)

Oakland Museum of Art

According to OMCA’s website, “Upon her death in 1965, Lange’s husband Paul S. Taylor donated her personal archive of more than 40,000 original negatives and 6,000 vintage prints to the Oakland Museum of California. The gift also included field notes, personal correspondence, proof sheets, audio tapes, and other material that tell the story of Lange’s documentary process. OMCA’s archive is the most complete collection of Lange’s work anywhere.” including White Angel Breadline, one of the first Depression-era photographs that Lange took.

Library of Congress

The Library of Congress’ collection includes photographs that Lange took for the Farm Security Administration, including migrant workers in California and tenant farmers in the South.

National Archives

The National Archives’ collection includes many “impounded” photographs of the Manzanar Relocation Center and other Japanese internment camps.

Museum of Modern Art, New York City

MOMA hosted at least two exhibits on Dorothea Lange and her photographs. The retrospective in 1965 just after her death includes installation images and accompanying exhibition publication. Another exhibit entitled Dorothea Lange: Words and Pictures was planned for 2020, but the museum had to close the exhibit because of COVID. The exhibit is now part of their Virtual Views and it includes interviews with the curator, a magazine piece exploring how Lange’s words and pictures worked together, and a thoughtful podcast with poet Tess Taylor.

Cook Library Resources Online

Watch “Grab a Hunk of Lightning” the retrospective documentary about Lange’s life as she prepared for the MOMA exhibit, available for free on Kanopy.

Read the eBook format of The Bohemians by Jasmin Darznik on your phone or tablet.

Attend author Jasmin Darzmik’s program online or in person at Stevenson High School’s Auditorium.

Categories: Books and More

Tags: Books and More

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