Dorothea Lange was born in 1895 in Hoboken, New Jersey. Her
family had come from Germany to the United States as immigrants. When
Dorothea was seven years old, she suffered from polio. In 1907, her father
left her family. And soon, her mother became an alcoholic. Dorothea was
lonely in high school until she began studying photography.
At the age of twenty-three, Dorothea left home, and in 1918, began an
around the world trip. She taught Ron Partridge photography and people
started calling him her “assistant.” Ron Partridge recalls that she was
very determined not to stop her work.
Dorothea Lange is best known for her work during the Great
Depression. Other things she photographed were children, ships, the
Depression, and many others. She also photographed Mormon communities.
During her years in photography, she traveled to Asia, South America,
Egypt, and India.
She married Maynard Dixon in 1920. Her marriage lasted fifteen
years and in 1935 she divorced him. However, while on assignment in New
Mexico, she remarried to Paul Taylor.
In 1939, she began her first major project. Later, she worked for the
Farm Security Administration. However, much conflict arose and in 1940
she was dismissed for the last time.
In the 1950’s and 60’s Dorotheas’s husband, Paul, spent six months
photographing developing countries and Asia. Dorothea began having
reoccurring ulcers. She was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. When
she was in the Near East she caught malaria.
Ansel Adams described her as a difficult woman who was
opinionated, impatient, and willful. A woman who defied the social gender
expectations. Her last project was entitled, “Dorothea Lange Looks at the
American Country Woman.”
Dorothea can definitely be described as someone who stood up for
women and knew that women could do anything anyone else could do.
Dorothea once said, “We need to be reminded these days about what women
have been and can be, it’s a question of their place in society. The really
deep and fundamental place in society.”
On October 11, 1965, Dorothea Lange died at the age of seventy.