Kidd, Stuart Stanley
About the author: Stuart Kidd is an American historian at the University of Reading, United Kingdom. He has been Director of the American Studies programme, and is Warden of Bulmershe Hall. Co-editor of The Roosevelt Years, he received his PhD from the University of Keele.2004 0-7734-6510-3
This study explores the FSA photographic project’s engagement with the South from 1935-1943. In particular it describes Roy Stryker’s Historical Section as an arm of the liberal state and as an adjunct of the mass communications industry. It charts the project’s coverage of southern tenant farmers, African Americans, small towns and mechanized farms, from the schedules devised in Washington headquarters, through the photographers’ work in the field, to the use of FSA images by the national media. The images are explained in terms of an interaction between the administrative dynamics of New Deal politics and the practices and preconceptions of the photographers. Underlying, and often reinforcing, this tension was a dissonance expressed by many southern subjects toward the agency’s ideals or the photographers themselves. The book contains 40 images drawn from the RA/FSA/OWI files, many of which have not been featured in previous studies.