This Moment in Lange's Life

This Moment in U.S. History

This Moment in Photography and Media History



1888 Eastman Kodak introduces the Kodak camera, the first portable hand-held camera.

1890 The Progressive Era begins and continues through the 1920s.

1890 Photographer Jacob Riis publishes How the Other Half Lives.

1892 The Pledge of Allegiance is written.

1895 Born in Hoboken, NJ



1897 First halftone process allows photographs to be published in newspapers and magazines.


1898 Spanish American War

1898 The Great Train Robbery is first successful feature film.


1902 Contracts polio at age 7 and is left with lifelong limp from damaged leg and foot.


1902 First transatlantic wireless telegraph message sent.
Alfred Stieglitz organizes the Photo-Secession.


1903 Wright brothers fly the first successful airplane.


1904 Sociologist Lewis Hine begins to use a camera to document social issues as an instrument of social change.

1907 Her father abandons the family. Her mother begins working at the New York Public Library to support the family.


1907 Edward Curtis begins to publish his photographic survey, The North American Indian.


1908 Ford's first car, the Model-T, is produced.


1912 Massachusetts is first state to adopt a minimum wage requirement.


1913 Graduates from high school and decides to become a photographer.


1913 The Armory Show in New York. This early exhibition of modern European art did not include photography.

 Attends NY training school for teachers. Takes photography classes from Clarence White at Columbia and works in Arnold Genthe's studio.

1914 World War I begins


1918 Moves to San Francisco and sets up a portrait studio.

1918 World War I ends.


1919 Prohibition begins.
Warren G. Harding elected president.
Race riots spread across the U.S.
Red Scare begins: government-sanctioned persecutions of immigrants, anarchists, and communists.

1919 Albert Einstein lectures on his Theory of Relativity at Columbia University in New York.


1920 Marries painter Maynard Dixon.

1920 19th Amendment to the Constitution ratified. Women are given the right to vote.

1920 Photographers begin to experiment with photomontage and photo-collage.
The use of photography in advertising increases in U.S.and Europe.


1920 First commercial radio station, KDKA, opens in Pittsburgh.

1923 Accompanies husband Dixon to southwest Native American reservations.


1924 U.S. Immigration bill passed, excluding all immigrants from Japan.
All native-born American Indians are given U.S. citizenship.

1924 Introduction of mass-produced, 35mm Ermanox and Leica cameras.

1925 May 15: first son, Daniel Rhodes Dixon, is born.


1925 The flashbulb is invented.


1927 First demonstration of television. An image was transmitted from Maryland to Washington DC.
First talking film, The Jazz Singer, is released.

1928 June 12: second son, John Eaglefeather Dixon is born.

General Strike / Lange

1928 Rolleiflex twin-lens reflex camera is introduced.
Steamboat Willy, the first fully synchronized sound cartoon, featuring Mickey Mouse, is released.
Eastman Kodak produces first 16mm color movie film.


1929 Herbert Hoover becomes president.
Stock market crashes and the Great Depression begins.

1929 Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) opens in New York.


Dust Bowl Refugees / Lange

1930 Droughts in the American Midwest and Great Plains precipitate the Dust Bowl.

1930 In the early 1930s the word "documentary" is first used to describe films that portray real life, in contrast to the world portrayed in the films of Hollywood.
The f.64 group of photographers forms in San Francisco around Ansel Adams, promoting precisionism in photography.


1931 Lindberg baby kidnapped.


1932 Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) is elected President on his "New Deal" campaign.

1932 Photoelectric cell light meter is introduced.

1933 Begins to photograph victims of the Depression in San Francisco.
Her photographs are included in the Century of Progress International Photography Salon.

1933 Prohibition is repealed.
The National Industry Recovery Act (NIRA), allowing workers to legally unionize, is passed by Congress.

1933 First color roll film is manufactured in U.S.

1934 Has her first exhibition in Oakland, CA and meets future husband, economist Paul Taylor.
Her photos appear with an article in Survey Graphic magazine.


1935 Paul Taylor becomes director of the California Rural Rehabilitation Administration and hires Lange to work with him.
Divorces Maynard Dixon, and marries Paul Taylor.
Begins traveling the U.S. for the government's Resettlement Administration (RA), later named the Farm Security Administration (FSA), through 1939.

1935 Thousands of Great Plains farmers, known as "Okies," move west to California in search of work.
FDR establishes the Works Progress Administration (WPA), known popularly as the "New Deal" for America, softening the worst effects of the Depression.
Part of the WPA, the Resettlement Administration (RA), later renamed the Farm Security Administration (FSA), is established to bring relief to farm workers.
Congress establishes a Social Security fund for the nation's workers.

1935 Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Arthur Rothstein, and others are hired by the RA (later the FSA) to take photographs that support the government's relief programs and publicize the plight of rural Americans.

1936 Continues work for RA and FSA.

1936 FDR re-elected to second term as U.S. president.

1936 The first issue of Life, a picture magazine, features a photograph by Margaret Bourke-White on the cover.
The Photo League emerges to document the urban experience.

1937 Continues work for FSA.

Migrant Mother / Lange

1937 Look picture magazine begins publication.
First single-lens reflex camera produced in Germany.
Woody Guthrie broadcasts his folk songs on the radio to great acclaim.
Photographer Margaret Bourke-White publishes You Have Seen Their Faces, a picture book on Southern poverty, with Erskine Caldwell.

1938 Continues work for FSA.


1938 Photographs by FSA photographers are included in a MOMA exhibition.

1939 An American Exodus published: an assemblage of photographs by Lange and text by Paul Taylor.
Continues work for FSA.

1939 Germany declares war on France and Britain. World War II begins.

1939 John Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath, based on firsthand interviews with migrant workers, is published.
Television makes a debut at the World's Fair.


1940 Begins to suffer from various illnesses, including stomach ulcers.
Her photographs, including Migrant Mother, are exhibited at MOMA.

1940 FDR elected to a third term as U.S. president.

1940 The government's Office of War Information (OWI) declares that movies are essential to morale and propaganda.
The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) establishes a Department of Photography.
A film version of The Grapes of Wrath, starring Henry Fonda as Tom Joad, is released. The director, John Ford, uses Lange's photographs as research material.

1941 Awarded Guggenheim Foundation fellowship.

1941 Dec 7: Japan bombs Pearl Harbor. The U.S. enters World War II, ending the Depression.

1941 Let Us Now Praise Famous Men is published. Documenting the lives of Southern Tenant farmers, it included a photoessay by Walker Evans.

1942 Through 1945: works for the Office of War Information (OWI).
Begins collaboration with Ansel Adams on a story for Fortune magazine about the shipyard boomtown Richmond, CA.
Through 1945: works for the WRA to document Japanese Internment.

1942 FSA transferred into the Office of War Information (OWI).
FDR signs Executive Order 9066 authorizing the internment of Japanese American citizens for the duration of World War II.
U.S. government establishes the War Relocation Authority (WRA) to manage the relocation of West coast Japanese to Internment camps.

Pledge of Allegiance / Lange


1943 Los Angeles "Zoot Suit" and Detroit race riots.


1944 December - Germany surrenders. World War II continues with the battle in the Pacific against Japan.


1945 Through 1951: Lange ceases taking photographs for several years while she takes care of her health.

1945 April: FDR dies. Vice President Harry Truman assumes the presidency.
June: United Nations established.
August: President Truman authorizes atomic bombs to be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.
September: Japan Surrenders. World War II ends.
Japanese Americans released from internment camps.
Nuremburg Trials for war crimes during WWII begin (through 1949).

1945 First digital computer completed, ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer). Originally used to determine bomb trajectories. 20 human hours of calculations took ENIAC only 30 seconds.

It Was Never / Lange

1947 House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) hearings begin: otherwise known as the "McCarthy Trials."
A UFO allegedly crashes into the desert near Roswell, New Mexico.

1947 Commercial television is made available to the public.
Kodak introduces Ektacolor film.
Photographers can now produce their own color negatives and prints.
Jackson Pollock exhibits his first action paintings.
Levittown established to provide affordable suburban housing for returning soldiers.


1948 Mohatmas Ghandi assassinated.

1948 Polaroid film and camera introduced.
35mm Nikon introduced in Japan.
The "Hollywood 10" (actors, film producers, and directors) are blacklisted by McCarthy's HUAC for alleged Communist activity .


1949 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) established.
Soviet Union explodes its first Atomic bomb (A-bomb). The Cold War begins.

1949 Contax S Camera introduced. The first single-lens camera with a pentaprism that corrects the previously upside-down, reversed image seen through the lens.



1950 Korean war begins.
President Truman sends US soldiers to Korea.

1950 The Xerox machine is invented.

1951 Begins to photograph again after prolonged illness.


1951 Color TV invented.

1952 Founds Aperture magazine with Ansel Adams, Minor White, Barbara Morgan, and Beaumont and Nancy Newhall.

1952 U.S. tests the first H-bomb at Los Alamos, NM.
Immigration and Naturalization Act is signed removing all racial and ethnic barriers to U.S. citizenship.

Mother and Son, Utah / Lange

1953 Works on an essay with Ansel Adams, "Three Mormon Towns," published in Life magazine in 1954.

1953 Korean War ends.
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg executed for their part in WWII espionage.

1953 Kinsey report on sexuality is published.

1954 Goes to Ireland on assignment for Life magazine. The photo-essay,"Irish Country People," is published in 1955.

1954 McCarthy Hearings are televised: investigations by HUAC into alleged Communists in the army.
"Under God" added to the Pledge of Allegiance.
Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka, KS. Supreme Court rules that racial segregation in schools is unconstitutional.

1954 Elvis releases his first singles on Sun records.
Construction begins on Disneyland in a Southern California orange and walnut grove.

1955 Begins work on a photo-essay documenting the daily life of a public defender in Oakland, CA.
Family of Man exhibition at MOMA includes her work.

1955 Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama.
Civil rights movement begins.

1955 The Family of Man, an exhibition of photography, opens at MOMA. The catalogue is on the bestseller list that year.

Korean Child / Lange

1956 Dr. Jonas Salk develops a vaccine for polio.
The Federal Highway Act is signed, beginning work on an interstate highway system.


1957 Sputnik 1 and 2 (the first satellites to orbit the earth) launched by the USSR. The Space Race begins.

1957 Jack Kerouac publishes On the Road.

1958 Travels extensively throughout Asia with husband, Paul Taylor.


1959 The Barbie Doll is introduced by Mattel.

1960 Travels to South America with Taylor.
Through 1964: works on her American Country Women portfolio.

1960 John F. Kennedy elected as U.S. President.
U.S. steps up aid to the Vietcong, sending special forces to train the South Vietnamese military.

1960 The birth control Pill is approved by the FDA and made available to the public.


1961 Let Us Now Praise Famous Men is republished and sparks a renewed interest in documentary photography.

1962 Spends much of the year in a hospital but is well enough to travel to Egypt with Taylor in December.

1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.


1963 The Vietnam conflict escalates as the U.S. becomes deeply involved in the war against the Communist government of North Vietnam.
March on Washington, D.C. with Martin Luther King who delivers his "I have a dream" speech.
President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, TX.

1963 Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique is published.
Kodak Instamatic camera introduced.

1964 Begins to assemble material for a major retrospective of her work to open in January 1966 at MOMA.

1964 President Lyndon Johnson proclaims his intention to build a "Great Society."

1964 The Beatles have their first hit in the U.S.

1965 October 11: Dies of cancer of the esophagus in San Francisco.

1965 Watts race riots in Los Angeles.
Malcolm X is assassinated.


1966 MOMA retrospective of Lange's work opens in January.

1966 NOW (National Organization of Women) is founded.


1967 Tom Wolfe publishes The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.


1968 Martin Luther King is assassinated.
Race riots in Detroit and Newark.
Robert F. Kennedy is assassinated in Los Angeles during the Democratic Primary.

1968 The Graduate, a film starring Dustin Hoffman, is released.
Andy Warhol is shot by Valerie Solanis in his studio.


1969 Neil Armstrong is the first man to walk on the moon.

1969 The Woodstock Music and Arts Fair is held on a farm in upstate New York.