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Press Release

July 16, 2015

Contact: Steve Hawkins
Oklahoma History Center, Oklahoma Historical Society
Office: 405-522-0754

Oklahoma History Center Opens Depression-Era Exhibit

Oklahoma City, Okla. — The Oklahoma History Center announces the opening of its newest exhibit, "Photographing the Plains: Farm Security Administration, 1935–45," displaying twenty black and white photographs from the Farm Security Administration (FSA) taken between 1935 and 1945. The exhibit is being displayed in the Chesapeake Events Center and is available for public viewing from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. 

The FSA began in 1937 as the successor of the Resettlement Administration, a branch of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Dealresponding to the devastating effects of the Great Depression. Roy Stryker was the person responsible for documenting this program by providing photographs to public relation outlets, including newspapers and magazines. "We, of course, undoubtedly affected a lot of people. We made a lot of people aware. When all is said and done, the problem of the Depression of that period was the suffering of the human beings who were caught and trapped in it," said Stryker. During the run of this project, approximately 175,000 black and white negatives and 1,600 color transparencies were produced. These images are now housed at the Library of Congress, are digitized, and available to the public.

Although Stryker was not a photographer himself, he promoted using the camera as a tool to document society. His work, especially in the early years of the FSA, was to enhance the public's perception of the federal aid programs for the destitute. Stryker led the Resettlement Administration and the FSA from 1935 to 1943 and was responsible for launching the careers of photographers such as Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans and Gordon Parks, among others, and for building an unmatched photographic legacy of life in America.

The Oklahoma History Center is a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society and is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, National Archives and is an accredited member of the American Association of Museums. The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains 31 museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about the OHS, please visit www.okhistory.org.

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