June in January, Miami Beach
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In 1939, Marion Post Wolcott traveled to Florida to cover the winter harvest. While she photographed the migrant workers coming down, she kept noting the contrast between the workers coming in and the wealthy who fled winter for seaside towns. Because the harvest was delayed a few days, she decided to go to Miami, writing: "Decided to stay in Miami for Sunday—take a swim, lie in the sun and sand for an hour or so, and photograph the tourists and idle rich at play."
While there, she photographed a range of leisure time—sunbathing, drinking, and horse racing—marveling at the difference between Americans suffering through the Depression and these Americans without a care in the world. Though she conceived a documentary series to explore this idea further, she eventually became so devoted to covering the political angles of poverty in the Depression that she did not return to it. This image from Miami Beach is one of less than 100 from the series, initially titled "Gold Avenue".
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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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