The early 1920s provided the first signs that the seemingly expansive market for American farm surpluses could falter, as European markets start to recover from post-WWI decline (Carlebach and Provenzo 1). All over the country, the shift towards modernization and large scale agribusiness opened up new models of farming. The shipper-grower, the seasonal low-paid worker and the industrial farm system were replacing the individual yeoman farmer and the family farm setting as the primary face of American agriculture (Carlebach and Provenzo 4-5). The populations being shepherded by these new changes into the cycle of migrant transitory labor were hit particularly hard by factors like the Dust Bowl (Fleischhauer and Brannan 2).

The primary goal of the Farm Security Administration, as it had been for previous New Deal agencies whose responsibilities the FSA inherited, was to combat the social and economic dislocations caused by the distressing agricultural climate. The body of documentary photography commonly known as the FSA photographs was, therefore, not the primary work of that organization. It is, however, arguably the most recognized legacy of the agency.




Juliet Gorman, May 2001