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General Strike / Street Meeting, San Francisco
Dorothea Lange (American, 1895 - 1965)
San Francisco, California, United States (Place created)
negative 1934; print about 1965
Gelatin silver print
24 x 19.1 cm (9 7/16 x 7 1/2 in.)
© Oakland Museum of California, the City of Oakland
Gift of David and Marcia Raymond in honor of their father, Paul Raymond
Although he is standing in the midst of unrest, this San Francisco police officer appears fully composed. Dorothea Lange made this photograph of a labor strike while working with the economist Paul Taylor, who would become her second husband. Taylor was covering the General Strike of 1934 for the social welfare journal Survey Graphic. At the time, most political discussions centered on labor issues, and artists like Lange felt compelled to get involved. Lange's interest in the plight of laborers began as she assessed the evidence of the Great Depression from her studio window. Late in life, Lange recalled that she could see the unemployed drifting about and pause as they wondered where to go next. She began making photographs outside her studio-of breadlines, labor demonstrations, and strikes like the one seen here. Though Lange said she initially "did not have the slightest idea" what she would do with images like this, she continued making them as a direct response to what she saw, eventually focusing entirely on what would become known as documentary photography.
Gift of David and Marcia Raymond in honor of their father Paul Raymond