January 13, 2020
Chisholm Trail Museum to Host Depression-Era Photography Exhibit
KINGFISHER, Okla. — From February 1 to May 30, 2020, the Chisholm Trail Museum in Kingfisher will host “Photographing the Plains: Farm Security Administration, 1935–1945,” a traveling exhibit from the Oklahoma History Center, curated by Curator of Exhibits Jim Meeks. This exhibit highlights a collection of black and white photographs taken by six Farm Security Administration (FSA) photographers who visited Oklahoma or photographed displaced Oklahomans looking for work during the Great Depression.
Roy Stryker was hired in 1935 to head the Historical Section of the Resettlement Administration (RA) and establish a photo documentary project that would provide photographs to public relations outlets, including newspapers and magazines. The FSA formed in 1937 under the Department of Agriculture and continued the work of photographing rural conditions. During the run of the project—from the early days of the RA (1935–36), to the FSA (1937–42) and later as the Office of War Information (1942–45)—approximately 175,000 black-and-white negatives and 1,600 color transparencies were produced. Stryker initially hired Arthur Rothstein, Theo Jung, Ben Shahn, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Carl Mydans, Russell Lee, Marion Post Wolcott, Jack Delano, John Vachon and John Collier Jr. He would also hire other photographers during his tenure, most notably Gordon Parks, Esther Bubley and Edwin and Louise Rosskam.
The photographs in this exhibit represent a sample by the six photographers, and date from 1936 to 1943. Russell Lee visited the state and produced around 1,600 images, whereas Marion Post Wolcott captured a mere handful of images of Oklahomans working in the oil fields of Kansas.
The Chisholm Trail Museum and A. J. Seay Mansion are located at 605 Zellers Ave. in Kingfisher. For more information, please call 405-375-5176.
The Chisholm Trail Museum is an affiliate of the Oklahoma Historical Society. The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma and its people. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains 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.