Reflections of Dorothea Lange

Each month, I gather images from the holdings of the Prints & Photographs Division for a Flickr album. The albums have a theme, the most recent one being Women Photographers of the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information (FSA/OWI). It features the work of Esther Bubley, Marjory Collins, Dorothea Lange, And Marion Post Wolcott.

As I was looking through photos in the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC) taken by Dorothea Lange, I spotted a photo, which at thumbnail size on my laptop, showed a car’s hubcap. When I enlarged the image, I got very excited when I saw reflections both on the car’s fender and in the hubcap!

Untitled photo, possibly related to: Close-up view of abandoned dry land farmhouse in Columbia Basin. Washington, Grant County, one mile east of Quincy. See general caption number 35. Photo by Dorothea Lange, 1939. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8b34725

Looking a little deeper, I saw four more hubcap photos. This is the one that provided me with the clearest reflection and that I included in the Flickr album:

Untitled. Photo by Dorothea Lange, 1939. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8b15483

Here is a detail:

Detail of Untitled. Photo by Dorothea Lange, 1939. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8b15483

These untitled photos would have been difficult to associate with Dorothea Lange’s work were it not for an ongoing project that is enhancing photo descriptions for FSA/OWI images. Originally, the online catalog caption information for the hubcap photo included a title of “Untitled” and listed no photographer name.

These photos will eventually all be titled “Untitled photo, possibly related to: Close-up view of abandoned dry land farmhouse in Columbia Basin. Washington, Grant County, one mile east of Quincy. See general caption number 35” and be attributed to Lange.

In the summer of 1939, Lange was working in Grant County, Washington, where she took these photos .

I can say with some certainty that the figure on the left in the reflection is Dorothea Lange. Lange holds her camera at waist level as she looks down through the viewfinder. I’m not certain of the identity of the man standing next to her. My guess would be that it is her husband Paul Taylor, who often travelled with her when she was on assignment for the FSA.

Look closely and you will see that this is the farmhouse in the reflection:

Untitled photo, possibly related to: Close-up view of abandoned dry land farmhouse in Columbia Basin. Washington, Grant County, one mile east of Quincy. See general caption number 35. Photo by Dorothea Lange, 1939. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8b34722

Here is a closer view of the farmhouse:

Close-up view of abandoned dry land farmhouse in Columbia Basin. Washington, Grant County, one mile east of Quincy. See general caption number 35. Photo by Dorothea Lange, 1939. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8b34721

You can always see new things in the collections of the Prints & Photographs Division if you take the time to look closely.

Learn More:

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