William Besson with a dip needle, near Winton, Minnesota
Title and other information from caption card.
Transfer; United States. Office of War Information. Overseas Picture Division. Washington Division; 1944.
More information about the FSA/OWI Collection is available at http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.fsaowi
Russell grew up in Ottawa, Illinois and went to the Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana. He earned a degree in chemical engineering from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He gave up a position as a chemist to become a painter and used photography as a precursor to his painting, but soon became interested in photography as media. His earliest subjects were Pennsylvanian bootleg mining and the Father Divine cult. In the fall of 1936, during the Great Depression, Lee was hired for the federally sponsored Farm Security Administration (FSA) photographic documentation project of the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. He joined a team assembled under Roy Stryker, along with Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein and Walker Evans. Lee created some of the iconic images produced by the FSA, including photographic studies of San Augustine, Texas in 1939, and Pie Town, New Mexico in 1940. Over the spring and summer of 1942, Lee was one of several government photographers to document the eviction of Japanese Americans from the West Coast, producing over 600 images of families waiting to be removed and their later life in various detention facilities.