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Transcript of Great depression
Russell Lee His parents divorced, when he was five, and his mother was killed in an accident when he was ten. In 1927 he married a painter Doris Emrick, and became a painter himself. The couple moved to a small artist's community in Woodstock, NY. Russell Lee struggled with painting and in 1935 bought a camera to try to help his visually. He quickly fell in love with photography. Russell Lee began taking photographs that reflected his concerns for the struggling working class. He was best known for his photographs taken for the United States Farm Security Administration project, documenting the plight of farmers through the Great Depression. (1936-1942) “....they didn't have anything. They were living on the ditch banks, they were picking wild berries to eat, because there was nothing else. But it was very seldom that you found a person who really felt whipped. Somehow they were going to go on until this afternoon, at least... " “I think I was looking for something. Yes, I think I was. Well, I tried to be a painter and I realized that I couldn't be a very good painter, because I couldn't draw very well.” - Russel Lee February 1939. "Kitchen table and stove of white migrant tent camp near Harlingen, Texas. Married daughter of migrant worker cutting salt meat for dinner." January 1939. "Negro sharecropper mother teaching children numbers and alphabet in home. Transylvania, Louisiana." Medium-format nitrate negative by Russell Lee May 1942. "Working on the nose of an engine on an interceptor plane. Lake Muroc, California." Photo by Russell Lee His relatives sent him to a military academy. He graduated from Lehigh University, with a degree in chemical engineering. "...Now they didn't know what was going to happen tomorrow, but until late this afternoon, somehow it would work out all right. There was tremendous pride and tremendous courage; we found it everywhere.“- Jane Lee He became a "taxonomist with a camera" because he dissected the visual aspects of any social situation in which he found himself in. His first marriage ended in divorce in 1938. In 1939 he married Jean Smith, a journalist from Dallas, who traveled with him and wrote captions for his photographs and short essays on social scenes that he captured. Russell Lee was born in Ottawa, Illinois, in 1903. Emilee Klein
Sawyer Haney Russell Lee died in Austin, Texas, in 1986. Between 200 and 300 of Russell Lee's images were used in the fight to clean up the coal industry.
In 1965 he began teaching at the University of Texas and this remained one of his passions until he retired in 1973. Lee's distinctive work appeared in hundreds of newspapers and popular journals including Life, Look, Fortune, U.S. Camera, and Survey Graphic.