Migrant family on highway, California, 1937
Photograph by Dorothea Lange
Extended Caption: California at Last: Example of self-resettlement in California. Oklahoma farm family on highway between Blythe and Indio. Forced by the drought of 1936 to abandon their farm, they set out with their children to drive to California. Picking cotton in Arizona for a day or two at a time gave them enough for food and gas to continue. On this day, they were within a day’s travel of their destination, Bakersfield, California. Their car had broken down en route and was abandoned.
“Toward Los Angeles.”California,
March 1937 by Dorothea Lange for FSA
“Next Time Try The Train– Relax.”
Lange captioned this with the walkers own words: “Well– give me the fare and I will, buddy. We ain’t walkin’ for our health…”
Man in Fields, Imperial Valley,
by Dorothea Lange (OMCA)
Ten Children, March 1937, by Dorothea Lange,
for the RA (courtesy of OMCA)
Text by Bruce Berman
Migrants looking for work goes back the very beginning of America, from the English/Europeans at Jamestown and beyond. One could arguably say that “Native Americans” descended from migrants from China, coming across the Bering land bridge.
In Lange’s era, as the economic Depression of the 1930s deepened and the ecological disasters of drought and erosion progressed there was a massive infra-country migration, primarily from the Great Plains and Texas/Oklahoma, mostly heading west to California.
This migration was heavily documented by the FSA and by others.