I have to make a disclaimer now- I am obviously only able to supply the most abridged of versions of a biography here... Where I have not attributed information, it is most likely taken from some of the basic works on her life*, which are good sources for further information. I'm including an entry from the journal I kept throughout this project so you can see some of the discomfort I felt in trying to represent her life in brief.


One major issue I did encounter was how much of a self-conscious tone to effect- like with her biography, I know I am being selective about the facts of her life, clearly I have to be, even more so than people whose whole work is a biography of her. It seems like a lot of the facts I chose fit into the "story of her radicalization" which definitely has certain implications in terms of a position on her FSA work...and partly that's because in the three works I have on her pre-FSA life, which are pretty much the major things on her, that's the approach they take. And partly the other stuff isn't as relevant to my later topics, but what is the cost? She comes off a bit like a girl on a straight path to liberal social awareness? And maybe she was? So if part of it is that that's the story that the books tell on her, and actually I don't have time to make my project a revisionary biography, then perhaps I acknowledge that this is the story on her as it has been told? But then I feel like I am getting superself-conscious. Hard balance to strike. I guess this makes it important to add in stuff like the story of how she came to start taking photos, or her job in Philadelphia. But then this is just adding more and more, and already I am at 10 pages of stuff on like 1/20billionth of the project.

* see works by Hurley, Hendrickson, Ellis (though her biographical work is mostly based on Hendrickson's) in bibliography




Juliet Gorman, May 2001


Did you familiarize yourself with the history of the FSA yet?

If you've done that already, have you covered the critical ground of thinking about what documentary photography meant specifically in the 1930s?

When you are done working through the material on the history of the FSA, critical perspectives to bring to FSA photography, and some context on Marion Post Wolcott's life, you should move on to reflections about narrative in FSA photography.