Between the years 1935 and 1942, a vast number of images of America were taken by photographers hired by the Farm Security Administration (FSA). The FSA had been established as a relief organization in order to help rural Americans out of poverty and into economic self-sufficiency and prosperity. The charge of the photographers was to document the people and places the FSA had set out to help. In 1942, the FSA's photography unit was transferred to the Office of War Information (OWI), whose primary purpose was to document America's mobilization during the early years of World War II, concentrating on such topics as aircraft factories and women in the workforce. Today, this collection of photographs consists of about 108,000 images, among them some of the most famous black-and-white documentary images from the first half of the twentieth century. Yet few people know that, along with the vast number of black-and-white photographs taken, color images were also made, by photographers such as Marion Post Walcott, Russell Lee, John Vachon, Arthur Rothstein, and Andreas Feininger.
This book presents, for the first time, the best of these color photographs - introduced by National Book Award finalist Paul Hendrickson and assembled to create a vivid portrait of America as it emerged from the Great Depression and prepared to fight World War II.
Paul Hendrickson, a longtime feature writer for the Washington Post, now teaches nonfiction writing at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of several books, including Looking for the Light (a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award) and The Living and the Dead: Robert McNamara and Five Lives of a Lost War (National Book Award finalist, New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and a Publisher's Weekly Best Book of the Year). He lives with his wife and two sons in Philadelphia.