Pinto beans, main crop at Pie Town, New Mexico
Pie Town, New Mexico, is a town with a population of about two hundred that’s named for its famous baked goods. Pie Town photographs, along with 164,000 others taken by F.S.A. photographers, are now stored at the Library of Congress. Russell Lee’s made his photographs in 1940, while on assignment for the Farm Security Administration. Lee, who had trained as a chemist and then as a painter, was assigned to take pictures “of most anything he can find.” He made six hundred images that give a look at the daily life of a small desert community. Many photographs are color Kodachromes. It was the time of the Great Depression when lower commodity prices crippled domestic prosperity and price declines destroyed the purchasing power of farmers and other primary producers.