A Woman to Know: Marion Post Wolcott

Certainly a lot of people were awakened to conditions who never would have been otherwise, I believe, through the photographs. — Marion

(image via Library of Congress)

Marion Post Wolcott had a hard job.

As a photographer on assignment during the Great Depression, she roamed ravaged communities and impoverished townships, documenting deprivation for the Farm Security Agency. And she wasn't welcomed into every home -- frequently, the subjects of her photographs resented the attention and invasion of privacy. Marion's job was to warm them up; to earn their trust, slowly; and to try to capture the hardship and resilience that characterized Depression-era society.

Her portfolio is vast: dry tobacco fields in Virginia, poor Appalachian coal towns, deserted Western streets, domestic workers in Florida. But Marion couldn't reconcile the devastation she was documenting with the slowness of the government relief programs that paid her to shoot. Fed up with the system's promises to help and improve, she resigned from the Farm Security Agency.

She never returned to photography.

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