Dorothea Lange was an American photographer known for her documentary work for the Farm Security Administration during the Great Depression. Her now iconic documentary photograph Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, 1936, was created in an effort to humanize the economic devastation of the Depression which left many Americans in destitution.
Lange was one of many photographers employed by the FSA, a government program with a specific branch of photography established with the goal of creating new jobs and reporting on the conditions of agricultural workers affected by the Depression. It was while Lange was working for the FSA that she travelled to Nipomo, California and came across Florence Owens Thompson and her children who at the time were living in a tent in a pea picker’s camp. Her most well-known published photograph of Thompson with her infant in her lap, a contemporary archetype of Madonna with child, became the face of the Great Depression. Migrant Mother has since become one of the most famous photographs in American history.
Outside of her work with the FSA, Lange spent her life committed to humanitarian activism and continued to utilize the medium of photography.