Dorothea Lange
Social Security Beginnings, 1937

Artwork Info

Artwork title
Social Security Beginnings
Artist name
Dorothea Lange
Date created
gelatin silver print
7 1/4 × 9 1/4 in. (18.42 × 23.5 cm)
Date acquired
Collection SFMOMA
Gift of Launny and Weezie Steffens
© Oakland Museum of California, the City of Oakland, gift of Paul S. Taylor
Permanent URL
Artwork status
Not on view at this time.

Audio Stories

The artist on photographing in San Francisco

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In this archival recording made near the end of her life, Dorothea Lange recalls photographing in San Francisco, at the height the Great Depression. Among these photos was White Angel Breadline, San Francisco, one of her most iconic images. 



I had made some photographs of the state of people, in an area of San Francisco, which revealed how deep that depression was.  


It was at that time beginning to cut very deep. This is a long process. It doesn’t happen overnight. Life, for people, begins to crumble on the edges, you know, they don’t realize. But this particular section was not far from the place where my studio was. I had done some photographs of this. And one of them is one of my most famed photographs. I made that on the first day. 


I made the old man with the tin cup. It was the first, but that was life. Had I struggled along for months and months with this material. But I saw something, and I encompassed it, and I had it.  

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