We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

California on the Breadlines

Dorothea Lange, Paul Taylor, and the Making of a New Deal Narrative

Jan Goggans

Publication Year: 2010

California on the Breadlines is the compelling account of how Dorothea Lange, the Great Depression’s most famous photographer, and Paul Taylor, her labor economist husband, forged a relationship that was private—they both divorced spouses to be together—collaborative, and richly productive. Lange and Taylor poured their considerable energies into the decade-long project of documenting the plight of California’s dispossessed, which in 1939 culminated in the publication of their landmark book, American Exodus: A Record of Human Erosion. Jan Goggans blends biography, literature, and history to retrace the paths that brought Lange and Taylor together. She shows how American Exodus set forth a new way of understanding those in crisis during the economic disaster in California and ultimately informed the way we think about the Great Depression itself.

Published by: University of California Press

Title Page, Frontispiece, Copyright, In Memoriam

pdf iconDownload PDF (85.5 KB)
pp. i-viii


pdf iconDownload PDF (51.0 KB)
pp. ix-x

List of Illustrations

pdf iconDownload PDF (32.2 KB)
pp. xi-xii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (43.6 KB)
pp. xiii-xvi

...Like many first books, this one seems to have begun long before its debut. Perhaps unlike many, it has changed radically over time. Despite the likelihood that few who were involved in the initial stages will recognize the final outcome, all who have contributed along the way deserve thanks. At the University of California, Davis, professors Linda Morris, David Robertson, and Jack Hicks all provided the mysterious spark that began my work on Paul Taylor...

read more

Prologue: Uncommon Ground

pdf iconDownload PDF (114.7 KB)
pp. 1-6

...Lange’s journal holds the record of the trip, and it describes a brisk pace, one that seems to have worn at the photographer, who was by then sixty-three years old and who had struggled for years with a variety of health problems. She made no photographs in Moscow because the stay there was “a struggle. The cold was terrible. Snow. The...

read more

1. From Belleau Wood to Berkeley

pdf iconDownload PDF (289.7 KB)
pp. 7-36

...On June 24, 1919, at 4:30 p.m., the University of Wisconsin– Madison conducted a ceremony that set out to do double duty, both a formal tribute to “her Men of the Service and the Dedication of Lincoln Terrace.” Sunny skies gave way to a trace of precipitation, and it remained cloudy afterward, with a gentle wind blowing from the northwest. The university’s...

read more

2. The Magnet of the West

pdf iconDownload PDF (281.6 KB)
pp. 37-74

...The geological formation of Sioux City, Iowa, noted Paul Taylor, is “wind-blown loess—a very fine yellow dust [that] was blown up from Kansas during geological time after recession of the iceage.” The loess, which remained for much of Taylor’s early life covered by buffalo grass, seemed to him “a very beautiful formation . . . like the waves of the...

read more

3. Labor on the Land

pdf iconDownload PDF (308.7 KB)
pp. 75-108

...Neither Taylor’s oral history nor his wife’s memoir makes much mention of the Crash as affecting their lives. Indeed, while Margot Taylor was born only a month after Black Thursday, Katharine’s memoir focuses on the Taylors’ move to a larger home and her efforts to make the open marriage work, both philosophically and practically. Yet when...

read more

4. Far West Factories

pdf iconDownload PDF (419.5 KB)
pp. 109-152

...Following the exhibit at Haviland Hall, Taylor and Lange’s work shifted in scope and content. In January, working together again, they left for the lowest reaches of San Luis Obispo County. On the second day, their notes and photographs produced the earliest narrative structure of the work they would create and ultimately perfect in a photograph of a...

read more

5. A New Social Order

pdf iconDownload PDF (325.7 KB)
pp. 153-182

...Whatever feeling Taylor had about Lange he kept under wraps, even many years later. After the long trip in March, he and Lange worked at least once more together, in the town of Winters, late in May. Then, in June, Taylor, his students, and Lange set out for a long trip once again. Their field notes begin at Sacramento...

read more

6. Women on the Breadlines

pdf iconDownload PDF (544.0 KB)
pp. 183-230

...When Lange first stepped out of her studio, she took her camera onto a street that was predominantly male. Breadlines and social agencies, while staffing women, employed more men and served more men, making women a minority in the visual landscape.1 As a woman on the street, Lange was forced...

read more

7. An American Exodus

pdf iconDownload PDF (316.3 KB)
pp. 231-260

...In 1939, a couple at philosophical odds, their eleven children literally spilling out of a ragged tent, seemed to encompass all Lange was seeing in terms of the broken dream the West offered, particularly for women who had been unable to construct a new domestic identity. The highly gendered experiences of the Dust Bowl refugees created tensions...

read more

Conclusion: Can the Subaltern Speak?

pdf iconDownload PDF (73.9 KB)
pp. 261-268

...Eighty years before the second great western exodus, and a continent away, Marx wrote of a similar group of agricultural workers: “In so far as millions of families live under economic conditions that separate their mode of life, their interests and their culture from those of the other classes, and that place them in an attitude hostile toward the latter, they constitute...


pdf iconDownload PDF (316.4 KB)
pp. 269-320


pdf iconDownload PDF (1.0 MB)
pp. 321-345

Production Notes

pdf iconDownload PDF (18.1 KB)
p. 346-346

E-ISBN-13: 9780520945890
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520266216

Page Count: 368
Publication Year: 2010