Juke Joint, Melrose, Louisiana
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Marion Post Wolcott made a name for herself as a photojournalist in the 30s, before she was hired by the Farm Security Administration. Wolcott was among a number of FSA photographers who were given early samples of Kodachrome (early color) film. Juke Joint, Melrose, Louisiana (1940) gives us a rare peek at the era's brightly colored signage. Patrons of this combo bar/gas station/store, likely came from the nearby Melrose Plantation: the first plantation built by and for free African Americans. Wolcott used her social connections to penetrate racial divides, and photographed juke joints across the south. This image exemplifies her formal mastery of photography and speaks to the personality that enabled her to contribute so much to the FSA collection.
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Marion Post Wolcott is best known for the more than 9,000 photographs she produced for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) from 1938 to 1942. She was the first woman offered a full time FSA appointment. Born in Montclair, N.J. her mother, Marion "Nan" Hoyt Post, was an ardent activist for progressive causes working with Margaret Sanger the founder of Planned Parenthood.
Before Wolcott became a government photographer, she was at first a teacher. Moving to New York City in 1936 she then earned her living making photographs for magazines and newspapers. Initially she worked freelance, then as a staff photojournalist in 1937 and 1938, Wolcott broke gender barriers in the newspaper darkroom.
Then she worked for the Farm Security Administration. She covered thousands of miles of the United States with her camera to document and publicize the need for federal assistance to those hardest hit by the Great Depression and agricultural blight. Wolcott also contributed 120 color photographs to the FSA when Kodak provided early samples of Kodachrome film to the staff for experimentation.
Drawing on her social concerns and her artistic vision to illustrate issues that needed redress, Wolcott produced an extraordinary number of images and her occupation challenged many social morés about the propriety of young women living away from the family home and traveling on their own. Her artistry and perseverance have inspired many articles, books, and exhibitions.
- Library of Congress
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