Girl from iconic Great Depression photo: ‘We were ashamed’ –

MODESTO, California (CNN) — The photograph became an icon of the Great Depression: a migrant mother with her children burying their faces in her shoulder. Katherine McIntosh was 4 years old when the photo was snapped. She said it brought shame — and determination — to her family.

“I wanted to make sure I never lived like that again,” says McIntosh, who turns 77 on Saturday. “We all worked hard and we all had good jobs and we all stayed with it. When we got a home, we stayed with it.”

McIntosh is the girl to the left of her mother when you look at the photograph. The picture is best known as “Migrant Mother,” a black-and-white photo taken in February or March 1936 by Dorothea Lange of Florence Owens Thompson, then 32, and her children.

Lange was traveling through Nipomo, California, taking photographs of migrant farm workers for the Resettlement Administration. At the time, Thompson had seven children who worked with her in the fields.

“She asked my mother if she could take her picture — that … her name would never be published, but it was to help the people in the plight that we were all in, the hard times,” McIntosh says.

“So mother let her take the picture, because she thought it would help.”

© Dorthea Lange Migrant Mother

Girl from iconic Great Depression photo: ‘We were ashamed’ –


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One Response to “Girl from iconic Great Depression photo: ‘We were ashamed’ –”

  1. Jason Says:

    During the great depression many families lost their homes and were forced to travel around from place to place in the hopes of finding food, shelter, and if they were lucky hope to keep on going. Dorthea Lange would travel around document the effects of the great depression in images ranging from sandstorms, abandoned storefronts, and ultimately the effect on the people who were in many ways also left and abandoned behind.

    The portrait of “Migrant Mother” had long been a symbol commonly associated with the great depression and the effects it had on the people of the United States. This image documented both the times, the people, and also brought a priority to the need for change. Shortly after its publication more the government began to take note of the hardships faced by many. FDR’s “New Deal”, Social Security, and the beginning of many other government projects, services, and ultimately jobs were can be linked to the hardships displayed in this particular image. As a photographer, and with this photograph, Dorthea Lange documented history and gave an image to a period of time that shall forever last.

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