Posted by ricardo marcenaro | Posted in Photos: Arthur Rothstein - Part 1 - Bio data - Links | Posted on 20:30
Life and career
Rothstein was born in Manhattan, New York City, and he grew up in the Bronx. He was a graduate of Columbia University, where he was a founder of the University Camera Club and photography editor of the Columbian. Following his graduation from Columbia during the Great Depression, Rothstein was invited to Washington DC by one of his professors at Columbia, Roy Stryker. Rothstein had been Stryker's student at Columbia University in the early 1930s.
In 1934, as a college senior, Rothstein prepared a set of copy photographs for a picture source book on American agriculture that Stryker and another professor, Rexford Tugwell were assembling. The book was never published, but before the year was out, Tugwell was part of FDR's New Deal brain trust. He hired Stryker and Stryker hired Rothstein to set up the darkroom for Stryker's Photo Unit of the Historical Section of the Resettlement Administration (RA), which became the Farm Security Administration (FSA) in 1937. Later, when the country geared up for World War II, the FSA became part of the Office of War Information (OWI).
Arthur Rothstein became the first photographer sent out by Roy Stryker, the head of the Photo Unit. During the next five years he shot some of the most significant photographs ever taken of rural and small-town America. He and other FSA photographers, including Esther Bubley, Marjory Collins, Marion Post Wolcott, Walker Evans, Russell Lee, Gordon Parks, Jack Delano, Charlotte Brooks, John Vachon, Carl Mydans, Dorothea Lange and Ben Shahn, were employed to publicize the living conditions of the rural poor in the United States.
The photographs made during Rothstein's five-year stint with the photographic section form a catalog of the agency's initiatives. His first assignment was to document the lives of some Virginia farmers who were being evicted to make way for the Shenandoah National Park and about to be relocated by the Resettlement Administration, and subsequent trips took him to the Dust Bowl and to cattle ranches in Montana.
The immediate incentive for his February 1937 assignment came from the interest generated by congressional consideration of farm tenant legislation sponsored in the Senate by John H. Bankhead, a moderate Democrat from Alabama with a strong interest in agriculture. Enacted in July, the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act gave the agency its new lease on life as the Farm Security Administration.
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