In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews511 Farm Security Administration Photographs of Florida. Edited with an original essay by Michael Carlebach and Eugene F. Provenzo Jr. University Press of Florida, 1993. 124 pp. Cloth, $39.95. Augustus Burns is a professor of history at the University of Florida. He is the editor of Readings in Modem United States History, and coauthor ofFrank Porter Graham and the 1950 Senate Race in North Carolina, which won an Award ofSpecial Merit from the North Carolina Society ofHistorians. In no area of American society did Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal more radically alter the political and economic landscape than in the nation's farm life. The myriad of programs enacted by the government "represented a new policy of government intervention in the business affairs of individual farmers," as one observer has remarked. "They marked a turning point from a free to a highly controlled economy." The very governmental agencies charged by Congress and the President to restructure American agriculture eagerly set out Reprinted with the permission of the University Press of Florida. 512Southern Cultures to persuade American citizens that farmers and farm workers were severely distressed. In one such effort, farm policy administrators went into the picture business. In 1935, President Roosevelt issued an executive order that created the Resettlement Administration, an agency intended to assist farmers and their families who had been dispossessed of their lands (some of this dispossession had been accelerated by other New Deal farm programs, most notably the first Agricultural Adjustment Act). To head this agency, Roosevelt named Rexford Tugwell, who had been a Columbia University economics professor before joining FDR's New Deal "Brains Trust." Within a few months, Tugwell managed to offend nearly every segment of American agriculture. He launched a counterattack, seeking to mute his critics by making a case for his policies directly to Congress and to the American people. Tugwell thus employed Roy Emerson Stryker, formerly a Columbia University colleague, to assemble a group of photographers who would document the plight of American farmers and farm workers. Stryker added to the government payroll a team of gifted photographers: Carl Myrdans, Walker Evans, Ben Shahn, Dorothea Lange, John Collier, Arthur Rothstein, Marion Post Wolcott, John Vachon, and Gordon Parks. Predictably, they produced a photographic archive that was stunning in its technical quality and in its artistic construction. These photographers did much of their work in Florida. As California was a mecca for Okies, Florida was a destination for southerners who, displaced from their farms, were searching for work and survival in Florida's revolutionized agribusiness complex. In the thirties new farms of large acreage opened in areas hardly used for farming, most notably the area south of Lake Okeechobee. Here up to 50,000 migratory laborers found work in peak season, often living in unimaginable squalor. Central Florida agriculture similarly grew in the thirties. This boom in the midst of depression created gross disparities in economic conditions . Florida remained a tourist haven for people able to afford winter vacations from northern climates, and the operators who ran the large farms and processing plants survived the Great Depression in relative comfort. Juxtaposing rural poverty in Florida and life in Palm Beach and other tourist communities was a socially conscious photographer's dream. In Farm Security Administration Photographs ofFlorida, Michael Carlebach and Eugene F. Provenzo Jr. have produced a book that faithfully reflects the achievement and the craftsmanship of Stryker's talented team. They have, in addition, detailed in arresting visual images a "rural world lost," to borrow Jack Temple Kirby's phrase: Florida before World War II, before Disney, before all the other economic and political changes that overtook this semitropical sand bar. The differences between Florida past and present are too numerous to examine in this brief review. But as these photographs make clear, the state was more beautiful and more terrible, more promising and more forbidding. The homogenization of space and structure that historian Daniel Boorsnn identified many years ago as a product of modem America has nowhere occurred with greater impact than in Florida. To contrast these pictures with modem Florida is to conclude that Joseph Schumpeter's phrase for industrial transformation—"creative destruction"—is a woeful understatement when...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 511-513
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.