Dorothea Lange took this photo in February of 1936 in Saint Luis Obispo County, California. It depicts a migrant worker and the car he lives in. This photo paints a familiar picture of the Great Depression. By depicting a migrant
worker, Lange captures the abject poverty and desperation of the Great Depression. People were so in need of employment that they traveled from place to place in search of farm work, just to make enough money to survive. This was a humiliating and degrading process for many people, used to the comforts of having a home and a bed to sleep in. This migrant worker is an interesting subject for a photo. He lives out of his car, which seems well kept. He is dressed well, his clothes have no apparent holes, and he appears to be posing for the photograph. This suggests that this man once had enough wealth to live comfortably. This picture symbolizes how the Great Depression affected people from all walks of life, not just those who were already poor. It speaks to the idea of repurposing that was common in the Great Depression. Not only is this man’s car a way for him to travel from farm to farm in order to work and get paid, he now treats it as his home. In keeping with Depression era frugality, this man has made his car serve multiple purposes.
Photo URL: https://www.loc.gov/item/2017759634/