Lange, Dorothea. “Near Westmorland, Imperial Valley. Filipinos cutting lettuce.”California, February, 1939. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection.

The bulk of Lange’s work in California focused on documenting agricultural labor. Her photographs aimed to illuminate not only the day-to-day realities faced by farmworkers but also the economic and racial systems in which those workers operated and the inequities those systems reinforced. Lange took nearly 200 photographs of the production of California’s crops, including some photos of workers picking cotton and peas, pulling carrots, and cutting lettuce and cabbage. Images like this provided new portraits of the migrant laborers, including those of Mexican, Japanese, and Filipino descent, who made California’s agricultural economy possible. 

Gordon, Linda. “Dorothea Lange: The Photographer as Agricultural Sociologist,” Journal of American History, 93, 3 (Dec. 2006): 706.

Where is it located in the Museum?
Lange, Dorothea. “Japanese agricultural workers packing broccoli near Guadalupe, California.” Guadalupe, California, March 1937. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection.

While Lange often hid the faces of agricultural workers in her photographs, others offered glimpses of children and older individuals to challenge popular impressions of who did farm work. These photographs reveal the intergenerational dynamics of farm communities. But unlike her other portraits, Lange’s photos of migrant farm workers did not include extensive captions, suggesting that she did not have long conversations with those families. 

Where is it located in the Museum?

Farm Workers