Restless Spirit: The Life and Work of Dorothea Lange

Restless Spirit: The Life and Work of Dorothea Lange

by Elizabeth Partridge

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A biography of Dorothea Lange, whose photographs of migrant workers, Japanese American internees, and rural poverty helped bring about important social reforms.  See more details below


A biography of Dorothea Lange, whose photographs of migrant workers, Japanese American internees, and rural poverty helped bring about important social reforms.

Editorial Reviews

Mary Lou Burket
It's a handsome book, and one that shows young readers the breadth of Lange's concerns.
Riverbank Review
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Studded with Lange's amazing photographs and poignant quotes, the book blends a view of the woman with the troubled times in which she lived. Dorothea had her own early difficulties. Polio, desertion by her father, and maternal weakness were all adversities that translated into her lifelong appreciation for those who struggled. Lange's humanness makes her willingness to improve the human condition even more understandable. Her compassion is evident in the photographs of the Great Depression's homeless, migrant workers, the evacuated Japanese-Americans, and southern sharecroppers. As the book traces her evolution as an artist and person, the author never shies from Lange's difficulties or failings. The author's father was Lange's photographic assistant and close friend.
VOYA - Alice F. Stern
When people think about the Dust Bowl, or the interment of Japanese Americans during World War II, they most likely visualize one of Dorothea Lange's photographs. Lange's beautiful and haunting photographs from the Great Depression and World War II helped put faces to the events of the times for the American people, and serve as chronicle of that era. Partridge, whose father was Lange's photographic assistant, was part of Lange's inner circle of family and friends during Lange's later years, giving her intimate insight into the photographer and the woman. Using over sixty-five photographs spanning Lange's entire career, Partridge has written a fascinating and beautifully-presented photo-biography. Quoting extensively from Lange herself, Partridge covers the photographer's entire life, from her childhood on the Lower East Side of Manhattan at the turn of the century, through her career, marriages, children, and old age. Particularly interesting are Lange's conflicts between motherhood and family life and her career, making her all the more human and of interest to readers today. Partridge also includes some of her father's photographs of Lange, so we see her in front of the camera as well as behind it. The result is an impressive volume that will be useful well beyond biography assignments. Index. Photos. Biblio. VOYA Codes: 5Q 4P M J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12).
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
Dorothea Lange did more to help the dustbowl families in the 1930s than did all of the politicians. Her black and white photographs raised our conscience and made us see the plight of these families who were not on anyone's goodwill list. Her photographs of the Japanese-American internment were equally as memorable. There is drama, heart, and humanity in all of her photographs. Lange's granddaughter tells the story of this fine photographer. It is a tribute to a remarkable woman who left us with indelible images of the 1920-1960s. Children should know about Dorothea Lange.
Children's Literature
As a young girl growing up in Hoboken, New Jersey, Dorothea Lange never seemed to fit in: she was stricken with polio at age seven and limped; she hated school and skipped as often as she could; she despised her father for leaving the family and described her mother as "difficult." Lange began her career as a photographer's assistant, learned quickly, and within a few years opened her own studio in San Francisco. Her marriage to artist Maynard Dixon and the arrival of their two sons presented Lange with a difficult situation: how to respect her commitment to her family and her commitment to her art. At a time when women were supposed to stay home and care for their husbands and children, Dorothea Lange was traveling the back roads capturing a disturbing vision of America. Her photographic perspective—her art—brought the souls of America's destitute out of the dust, off the breadlines, away from internment camps, and onto the pages of the nation's magazines and newspapers. Because Elizabeth Partridge's grandfather worked for Lange for many years, her personal insights, along with quotations from letters and journals, bring Lange to life. Partridge's work is both photo essay and biography. She provides a good balance between photo and text as it presents the personal and artistic life of the artist. Partridge's writing is clear and concise, with many interesting quotes, a bibliographic listing, and an index. In addition to the artistic and biographic merit, the work is a valuable chronicle of some of America's bleakest hours. 2001 (orig. 1998), Puffin Books, and Ages 10 up.
—Barbara Sauer <%ISBN%>067087888X
Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
Lange was a brilliant photographer who did her best work as a chronicler of the ravages of the Great Depression for FDR's Farm Security Administration. Her "Migrant Mother" became an icon of the period. It's fascinating, then, to read of Lange's bohemian life and her own shortcomings as a mother as she faced an earlier version of today's working mother's dilemma. Photography always came first. A sympathetic view of a difficult personality, Partridge's biography takes advantage of the author's family connections and her childhood remembrances of Lange. The narrative is strong on Depression history, and the moving photographs are reproduced with verve.
Many large and beautiful reproductions of Lange's famous b/w photographs of migrant farm workers, Japanese American internees, and the rural poor highlight this excellent biography. It traces Lange from her birth in Hoboken in 1895 through a childhood bout with polio, her difficult adolescence, training as a photographer, her marriages and children, and her growing interest in documentary photography, to her death in 1965. The frontispiece quotes her as saying, "I realize more and more what it takes to be a really good photographer. You go in over your head, not just up to your neck." Never one to hang back, Lange's strong feelings about the people she photographed helped to bring about social change, like the establishment of emergency migrant camps in California. Partridge, the daughter of Lange's long-time assistant, gives some personal perspective on Lange in an afterword. This is a wonderful introduction to Lange's life and work for students who may not be familiar with her groundbreaking photographs. An ALA Notable Book and Best Book for YAs, among other honors. Category: Biography & Personal Narrative. KLIATT Codes: JS*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 1998, Penguin, Puffin, 122p. illus. bibliog. index., Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick; KLIATT
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-As a photographer, Lange specialized in documentary-type portraits, seeking to capture in people's faces the stories of their lives. Through the years of the Great Depression and the Second World War, she recorded the down-and-out, the oppressed, the needy. Her portrait "Migrant Mother" has become a familiar icon of hardship, a symbol of the dislocation and poverty caused by the dust bowl in the 1930s. Her camera recorded the Japanese Americans sent to internment camps in the 1940s, and in later travels she preserved the images of children around the world. As a young girl the author knew Lange and was, through her photographer father, connected with the intimate circle of Lange's family and friends. She uses personal memories; her subject's own written words in diaries, interviews, and letters; and especially a liberal selection of dramatic photographs to show the talent and the complex personality of this extraordinary woman. It was hard for Lange, in the decades in which she lived, to pursue her career while balancing family responsibilities and personal crises. She was independent, even radical, in her political thinking and social philosophy. Her story resonates with issues of gender, social policies, artistic merit, and human interest. This well-constructed, sympathetic biography deserves many readers and is a must for every library.-Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
A fascinating biography of the world-famous photographer, written by the daughter of Lange's assistant in the 1930s.

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Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
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Product dimensions:
8.31(w) x 10.25(h) x 0.37(d)
970L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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