Online Exhibitions from the Library of Congress Essay

Bound for Glory: America in Color (1939-1943)

The Library of Congress held an online exhibition which encompasses U.S. history to present. One online exhibition is that which presented colorful images of the lives of people after the American Depression. The exhibit was given the title Bound for Glory: America in Color (1939-1943) and was first viewed early in 2006.

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            This exhibit was able to present colorful images of the occurrences during the American Depression. Before, the American Depression was only seen from the history through black and white pictures. In the exhibit Bound for Glory: America in Color (1939-1943), the colored pictures presented were taken by photographers of the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information (FSA/OWI) in the 1940’s. These photographers were asked to take pictures during that time to show what the Depression had done to people so they could present it to the Congress and to the public also to get some help.

            The use of colored pictures came quite surprising to present professional photographers. Most of the shots taken during that time were using monochrome images although color films have been introduced way back 1861. Professional photographers during that time had used colored films but their works were only presented for only a few years ago.  Most of the contributors of the photographs were professional photographers Jack Delano, Marion Post Wolcott, and Russell Lee. Some other contributors were John Vachon, Alfred Palmer, Arthur Rothstein and John Collier. The shots they took were turned in to the Library of Congress only in 1978 by Sally Stein, historian. She was able to recover 700 images taken by the FSA/OWI.

            The Depression images presented at the Library of Congress is very different from how I’ve made my own images of Depression. Based on the books I’ve read and from the black-and-white pictures I’ve seen of the Depression, I’ve perceived the lives of those living in that era as really miserable. The era of Depression were described as that-full of suffering, like every minute nightmare.

            The image presented above was that image taken by Russell Lee in 1940 during the distribution of the commodities in Arizona. During that time, the whole country was really broke and hungry. People would have to depend on their agricultural crops to feed themselves and from the surplus commodities provided by the government. Many have suffered from malnutrition especially the children.

            The images in the exhibit at the Library of Congress have changed the way I see the Depression era. It wasn’t as miserable as I thought it was. Images of children going to square dances, girls happily posing at the backstage of a show for the state fair and kids in school looks like it’s not really as bad as it has been described. They all look happily recovering and the pictures of people getting together tell that everyone is cooperating and coping with the help of each other. There were also some pictures of infrastructures but most of the pictures have this warmth of country living. It is probably because of the program of the government that promoted agricultural goods to feed the people. Kids were also in school which tells me that life didn’t stop during that era and people were thinking and hoping of a better future for everyone. There were a few pictures with open stores as their background which means that trade is still there.

            It’s probably because of the colored images which gave cheer to the misery and despair of the people during those times. To compare the colored images and the monochrome images, the monochrome images of the Depression era showed a lot of suffering and hopelessness while the colored images which captured the lives of the people living in the Depression era showed a hoping generation.

Women come to the front: Journalists, Photographers and Broadcasters during the World War II

            This exhibit featured eight wonderful women who played a significant role in the U.S. history when they played their part as journalists, photographers and broadcasters during the World War II (WWII).

            After the Depression era, the Americans were already kind of weary and things got worse when the Second World War broke out. During this time, the young-adult boys and adult men would be sent to join the military forces and their women would be left to take over their families and play some community roles. While the men are in the battlefield, the women had to step up and take over matters their men has been deprived to take care of.

            There were eight women, though, who were also sent to battlefield with not guns as their weapons, but, instead, pens, papers and cameras. These women has been very significant to the US history for they bravely faced the home front to record and document the occurrences during the WWII and because of them, we are able to go back to those times when depression had only gotten worse and bloodshed were rampant.

            The eight women are photographers Therese Bonney, Esther Bubley, Dorothea Lange and Toni Frissell, photojournalist and broadcaster Marvin Breckinridge Patterson, journalists Clare Boothe Luce, Janet Flanner and Elisabeth May Adams Craig. With too many event turns, these women were surely got themselves busy as they watched over the happenings during the war in so many locations like battle fields, hospitals and camps.

            Therese Bonney’s subjects were usually children and the impact of war on them. Most of her images captured suffering of the children caused by the war—homeless children, nuns feeding children, etc. Bonney had been admired because of his braveness as evidenced by the awards she got with her photo-essay books. A comic even starred her and her “truth raids.”

If Bonney’s subjects were mostly children, Esther Bubley’s subjects were those of the activities of the people during the war.

Dorothea Lange’s works are similar to those of Bubley’s. She found subjects at the war’s home front. Her photographs of the Japanese internment had become quite controversial as one critic commented on the photographs as not only showing emotions but the facts of the events as well.

Toni Frissell offered her service to the American Red Cross, Women’s Army Corps, and Eighth Army Air Force after doing some jobs at a fashion magazine. Frissell’s work would almost always try to persuade public to have a different look of certain things. In one photograph she took, she showed black men being part of the air force to make the public think of how fit black men are to be part of the military forces.

Marvin Breckinridge Patterson was a photojournalist focused on telling the stories of war through her photographs. She, however, was hired to become the first female staff broadcaster in Europe. The photo below shows Patterson broadcasting.

Clare Boothe Luce is a wealthy woman who dedicated her time in making accurate reports of the events during the war. She has been arrested for writing an article which tackles the poor military preparedness. She was able to write a book entitled Europe in the Spring. Luce was also able to meet world leaders during those times. She also became a congresswoman.

Janet Flanner was a journalist and broadcaster whose focus was on the consequences of the war. She sees the bigger problems the future generations would have to face as a consequence of the war. The exhibit shows some of the articles she wrote for the New Yorker.

Elisabeth May Adams Craig was also a journalist whose other activities include promoting female journalism. The exhibit shows some of the articles Craig wrote and a cartoon which described a cartoonist’s view of who Craig was.

Reference:

Library of Congress. 2006. Exhibitions. Retrieved November 24, 2008 from http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/.