The Virtual Exhibit includes some the most poignant and lasting images captured by Dorothea Lange. Organized into four exhibit rooms, this gallery evokes a realization that everyday people are the very "stuff" of history.In these exhibit rooms, we will see history through Lange's camera lens .We will befriend the unemployed, who needed and received relief through programs of the New Deal; the migrant farm workers, who sustained profits for large landowners by hard work, low wages and substandard living conditions; the Japanese Americans who accepted with dignity enforced relocation to internment camps in response to Pearl Harbor; and the women, who embraced their children and steadied their husbands in these years of tremendous dislocation.
Lange's images are particularly meaningful because of their historical context. The images displayed here reflect a time that historians consider as a "Crossroads of Democracy." It was a time in our nation's history in which the very underpinnings of America�s economic, social and political freedoms seemed threatened.. With the onset of the Great Depression in 1929, many experienced the impotence of chronic unemployment. Some 13 million men and women lost their ability to provide for themselves and their families, as the pulsating beat of industrial and agricultural production had been dangerously slowed by bad economic decisions of the 1920s and the onset of a worldwide depression by the 1930s.
In the midst of the struggle to revive economic life, Americans, by the mid 1930s, found themselves faced with a different threat: the rising tide of fascism in Europe and Asia. Sponsoring this alternative to democracy were widely supported, charismatic leaders who reshaped the Darwinian axiom of "survival of the fittest" into a nationalist ideology of racial purity and military aggression. While this nation's president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, struggled to put together programs that provided Americans with economic security, Hitler in Germany, Mussolini in Italy, and Tito in Japan solved their economic woes by building systems for war. Once launched, this war --- World War II --- compelled Franklin Roosevelt to ask that Americans join him in fighting worldwide fascism. Citing a united home front as essential, Roosevelt also demanded that some relinquish their civil liberties, a burden that fell heaviest on the Japanese Americans living on the west coast.
Now browse through the exhibit rooms of this virtual gallery, taking time to reflect on each of the images. Within each exhibit room, you will also be invited to find out more about the ways that Dorothea Lange was a participant in this country's "Crossroads of Democracy."