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Letter from Edwin Locke to Depression-Era Photographer Arthur Rothstein, July 14, 1936

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The typed letter outlines instructions for photographer Arthur Rothstein.
Courtesy of Library of Congress, Locke, Edwin, "[Letter from Edwin Locke to Arthur Rothstein, July 14, 1936]," 14 July 1936


This document is a letter sent by Edwin Locke to photographer Arthur Rothstein. It outlines the type of photographs the government would like captured regarding the aftermath of the drought. The instructions focus on a desire for dramatic photographs showing harsh conditions against a the backdrop of aid being given to these regions.  

Transcript of Edwin Locke's Letter to Arthur Rothstein

Source-Dependent Questions

  • Describe the type of photographs Edwin Locke would like to see taken using evidence from the letter. Why would he like to see those types of photos?
  • Consider the following quotation from the letter, "(a) big 'if any' is understood with all this wishful thinking. I believe, from news stories that you are coming into this area after the climax of desolation has been reached." Why would Locke be disappointed in not being about to get photographs at the "climax of desolation?"
  • How did the type of photographs asked for by Locke promote a change in relationship between the government and people through the New Deal programs?

Citation Information 

Locke, Edwin, "[Letter from Edwin Locke to Arthur Rothstein, July 14, 1936]," 14 July 1936. Courtesy of Library of Congress