California on the Breadlines
Dorothea Lange, Paul Taylor, and the Making of a New Deal Narrative
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: University of California Press
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Title Page, Frontispiece, Copyright, In Memoriam
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List of Illustrations
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...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...
Prologue: Uncommon Ground
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...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...
1. From Belleau Wood to Berkeley
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...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...
2. The Magnet of the West
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...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...
3. Labor on the Land
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...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...
4. Far West Factories
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...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...
5. A New Social Order
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...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...
6. Women on the Breadlines
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...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...
7. An American Exodus
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...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...
Conclusion: Can the Subaltern Speak?
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...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...
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Page Count: 368
Publication Year: 2010