Let Us Now Praise Famous Photo Albums: Walker Evans’ Albums for Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

Floyd Burroughs, Sharecropper

Floyd Burroughs, Sharecropper. Volume 1. Photograph by Walker Evans. //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2003656560/

During the summer of 1936, Walker Evans, a preeminent photo documentarian of the New Deal, worked with writer James Agee on a project originally intended for Fortune magazine about the devastating effects of economic conditions on white tenant farmers. Agee and Evans spent eight weeks that summer researching their assignment, mainly among three white sharecropping families mired in desperate poverty in Hale County and Perry County, Alabama. Special photo albums preserved in the Prints & Photographs Division  represent the photographic essence of what later appeared as the landmark  book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, published first in 1941.

Allie Mae Burroughs

Allie Mae Burroughs. Volume 1. Photograph by Walker Evans. //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2003656560/

The stark, stunning black-and-white photographs within these two albums show the family members, farms, and houses of the three families and include portraits, details of rooms and belongings, cotton, activities such as washing clothes, stores in the vicinity, meeting house, and Sunday singing.

Learn More:

Photograph albums for Let Us Now Praise Famous Men / photographs by Walker Evans:

See more than 500 images credited to Walker Evans in the collection of Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives.

Find out what happened to the sharecropping families after the publication of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men in the book And Their Children After Them: The Legacy of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, James Agee, Walker Evans, and the Rise and Fall of Cotton in the South by Dale Maharidge and Michael Williamson, first published in 1989 by Pantheon Books (//lccn.loc.gov/88043136) and re-issued in 2004 by Seven Stories Press (//lccn.loc.gov/2004022848).

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