A Tribute to Womanhood
Welcome to "I Am Woman"...a tribute to all those women who had the courage and perseverance to stand up and fight for their rights. Thanks to those who came before us we enjoy a freedom unknown to women not too long ago. But, sadly, in many parts of the world, women continue to be repressed. In fact, even in this country there are women living today under the threat of violence...completely controlled by a violent spouse. Some may make it; others won't. Hopefully, one day ALL women will be free. May that day come soon.
Dorothea Lange was born May 26, 1895 in Hobokon, New Jersey. When she was 7 years old, she contracted polio which left her with a weakened right leg and a pronounced limp. Her classmates made fun of her, and even her mother appeared to be ashamed of her. Then, when she was 12, her dad walked out, and she neither saw nor heard from him again. The family then moved in with Dorothea's maternal grandmother. Her mom took a job as a librarian, and it was during those long walks through downtown Manhattan to meet her mother after school, that Dorothea decided that she wanted to take photographs.
Her mother had wanted her to become a teacher, but Dorothea had her mind set. Instead, she studied photography at Columbia University and worked part-time at a New York portrait studio. By 1918, she had begun to travel. Then, with the onset of the Great Depression, she took her camera to the streets where she documented the suffering of the dispossessed standing in bread lines or participating in labor strikes. The pain of her own childhood gave her a fuller sense of what suffering meant.
From 1935 to 1939, her photos of the poor and forgotten--particularly the sharecroppers and migrant workers--brought their plight to public attention. Her best known picture was one that was simply called, "Migrant Mother".
During World War II, Dorothea documented the internment of Japanese Americans in camps, and then turned her camera on women and members of minority groups at work side by side in the California shipyards. After the war, she covered the founding of the United Nations. She traveled widely in the 1950's and 1960's visiting such countries as Viet Nam, India, Ireland, and Pakistan.
Dorothea was the first woman ever to be awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship which she was unable to complete because of illness for in the last two decades of her life, her health was poor. She suffered from gastric problems and post-polio syndrome. She died of esophageal cancer in 1965 at the age of 70.