Migrant Mother

Historical content: 
The New Deal and World War II
Historical skills: 
Sourcing

Assessment

Directions: 

Examine the photograph and answer the questions that follow.

Source: 

The Resettlement Administration was one of President Franklin Roosevelt’s agencies that helped people from the Dust Bowl. This agency hired photographer Dorothea Lange to take pictures that would build support for its programs. This photograph was one of several that Dorothea Lange took of migrant farm worker Florence Thompson and three of her seven children.

"Migrant Mother." Dorothea Lange, February 1936.

Question 1: How might this photograph be useful as evidence of the living conditions of migrant farm workers during the Great Depression?

Question 2:  What about this source might make it less useful as evidence of the living conditions of migrant farm workers during the Great Depression?

About the Assessment

Like the Slave Quarters assessment, this question requires students to consider the relative strengths and weaknesses of a document as historical evidence.  Students with a sophisticated understanding of how to source a document will be able to explain that Lange's iconic photograph is useful in that it depicts migrant workers at the time.  They will also point out that the fact that Lange was paid by the Resettlement Administration to take the photograph may make it less useful as evidence of the living conditions facing migrant workers.