Marion Post Wolcott

Photography for the

Farm Security Administration

Dear Roy:

It gives me pleasure to give this note of introduction to Marion Post because I know her work well. She is a young photographer of considerable experience who has made a number of very good photographs on social themes in the South and elsewhere…I feel that if you have any place for a conscientious and talented photographer,you will do well to give her an opportunity.

Paul Strand 6-20-38


You will start at $2300 a year, with $5 a day expenses for the time you are in the field….You will receive 4 ½ cents a mile when you travel in your own car….We supply you with film, flashbulbs, and some equipment. If you desire a special camera, or cameras, I am afraid you will have to supply it at the present time….It is our desire to standardize as far as possible on the Leica Contax, and 3-1/4 x 4-1/4 Speed Graphic….

I know full well no photographer ever really gets through in any region, but at least he wants to have a satisfied feeling of putting together at least a few of the rough edges. These jobs in the west can just wait. They fiddle around with appointments and delay getting people on the payroll and then expect the photographers to make up for it…tearing around like mad. People—to hell with them! Stryker to Post, 9-21-38


We were all inspired and revved up by the whole New Deal idea, and of changing things and trying to get people to understand what was going on, and what the condition of the country was. We were trying to show this graphically, because people will look at photographs when they won’t read things. We hoped that this would make an impact and change people’s ideas and their opinions… they had no idea that a third of the nation was ill-clad and ill-nourished and so forth… as FDR said.

MPW on Today Show, "Woman to Woman," with Pat Mitchell, May 13, 1988.


Many didn’t understand it and many who objected to the government photographers were not the poor people who were being photographed. The Plantation owners didn’t want their cheap labor to be influenced or upset. They, and most of the upper class people, were against the FSA and against the New Deal. They didn’t want any part of this revolution. They didn’t want to cooperate, and they didn’t want us photographing any of their family—their property; they still considered them their property. Today Show

Letters to Roy Stryker

Return to MPW's top page home page.