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Photographing the Plains: Farm Security Administration, 1935–1945 exhibit opens

February 1

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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 Avenue in Kingfisher. For more information please call 405-375-5176.


February 1
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Chisholm Trail Museum
605 Zellers Avenue Kingfisher, OK 73750