The Railroad Photography of Jack Delano
237 pages
English
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The Railroad Photography of Jack Delano

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237 pages
English

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Born in the Ukraine, photographer Jack Delano moved to the United States in 1923. After graduating from Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1937, Delano worked for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and the Office of War Information (OWI) as a photographer. Best known for his work for the Office of War Information during 1940–1943, Jack Delano captured the face of American railroading in a series of stunning photographs. His images, especially his portraits of railroad workers, are a vibrant and telling portrait of industrial life during one of the most important periods in American history. This remarkable collection features Delano's photographs of railroad operations and workers taken for the OWI in the winter of 1942/43 and during a cross-country journey on the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway, plus an extensive selection of his groundbreaking color images. The introduction provides the most complete summary of Delano's life published to date. Both railroad and photography enthusiasts will treasure this worthy tribute to one of the great photographers of the thirties and forties.


Foreword by Pablo Delano
Preface: A Re-Made Man
Acknowledgements
Introduction: A Real Respect for the Thing in Front of Him
1. Portfolio One: The Farm Security Administration Photos, 1940-1942
2. Portfolio Two: OWI: Chicago
3. Portfolio Three: OWI: Across the Continent on the Santa Fe
4. Portfolio Four: FSA/OWI: The American Railroad in Color, 1940-1943
Appendix: Notes on the Plate Captions and on the Plates
Appendix: Roy Stryker's FSA/OWI Shooting Scripts Concerning American Railroads
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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Date de parution 14 décembre 2015
Nombre de lectures 2
EAN13 9780253021571
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 38 Mo

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T HE R A IL RO A D P HO T OGR A P H Y OF J A C K DE L A NORAILROADS PAST & PRESENT INDIANA UNIVERSIT Y PRESS
GEORGE M. SMERK & H. ROGER GRANT, EDITORS BLOOMINGTON & INDIANAPOLIS
A list of books in the series appears at the end of this volume.
Other Books by Tony Reevy
Ghost Train! American Railroad Ghost Legends
A Guide to North Carolina’s Railroad Structures
(with Art Peterson and Sonny Dowdy)
Green Cove Stop
Magdalena
Lightning in Wartime
In Mountain Lion Country
O. Winston Link: Life along the Line
Old NorthT HE R A IL RO A D P HO T OGR A P H Y OF J A C K DE L A NO
T ON Y RE E V Y F ORE W ORD B Y PA BL O DE L A NOThis book is a publication of The paper used in this publication meets the minimum
requirements of the American National Standard for
Indiana University Press Information Sciences – Permanence of Paper for Printed
Offce of Scholarly Publishing Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48–1992.
Herman B Wells Library 350
1320 East 10th Street Library of Congress
Bloomington, Indiana 47405 USA Cataloging-in-Publication Data
iupress.indiana.edu Delano, Jack.
The railroad photography of Jack Delano / [edited by]
© 2015 by Tony Reevy Tony Reevy ; foreword by Pablo Delano.
pages cm. – (Railroads past and present)
All rights reserved Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-253-01777-2 (cloth : alkaline paper)
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any 1. Railroads – United States – History – 20th century – Pictorial
form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including works. 2. Railroads – United States – Employees – Portraits.
photocopying and recording, or by any information storage 3. Delano, Jack – Photograph collections. 4. United States.
and retrieval system, without permission in writing from Farm Security Administration – Photograph collections.
the publisher. The Association of American University 5. United States. Offce of War Information – Photograph
Presses’ Resolution on Permissions constitutes the only collections. 6. Delano, Jack. 7. Photographers – United
exception to this prohibition. States – Biography. I. Reevy, Tony. II. United States. Farm
Security Administration. III. United States. Offce of War
Manufactured in China Information. IV. Title.
TF23.D445 2015
625.0973’09041 – dc23
2015004465
1 2 3 4 5 20 19 18 17 16 15TO CAROLINEC O NTE NT S
v iii Foreword Pablo Delano 2 I N T RO DU C T I O N 16 PORTFOLIO ONE
A Real Respect for the Thing in Front of Him The Farm Security Administration Photos, 1940–1942 xi Preface
x iii Acknowledgments38 PORTFOLIO TWO 112 PORTFOLIO THREE 160 PORTFOLIO FOUR
OWI: Chicago OWI: Across the Continent on the Santa Fe FSA/OWI: The American Railroad in Color, 1940–1943
16 5 Appendix One Notes on the Plate Captions and on the Plates
16 7 Appendix Two Roy Stryker’s FSA/OWI Shooting Scripts concerning American Railroads
17 7 Notes
18 1 Bibliography
18 3 IndexSarah Fairfeld.
Photo by Pablo Delano.
viiiF O RE W O RD
In 1985, I undertook a photography project that documented th te heir own tenaciousness as well as to civil rights and afrmative action
community of workers in and around East 149th Street, a bustlinlg egislation.
commercial thoroughfare in the South Bronx. Just east of G- rand CoW nhen Tony Reevy graciously asked me to write this foreword, my
course the street crosses over a bed of railroad tracks which spmlint od t f urned to my own very brief experience with railroa-d photogra
into the Harlem and Hudson lines. Cradled in that fork sat a swiptchy ohinn tg hat summer day in the South Bronx. I remembered specifcally
tower, facing south, with a sweeping view of the tracks. In keepia png whotitogh raph I made of one of the women, Sarah Fairfeld, because she
the spirit of my project, I decided to try to photograph the workserems i en d to embody the spirit of railroading and to relish every moment
the tower. Securing permission was no –t h cearrtdainly easier than it of her job. She even wore a belt buckle depicting a caboose. So I decided
would be today. to try to fnd out what had become of her using the minim-al informa
Te tower marked the southern end of what once was the vastt Mion I not oted when I took her pi c–t w uh riech consisted only of her name
Haven Yard, built by the New York Central in the nineteenth cenatnud jryo. b description. With the internet, a litle information goes a long
Inside, the switching levers, equipment, and furniture looked anw c aiy.ent.
I felt as though I were walking into a live, 3-D version of o -ne of my f Sarah Jean Velky Fairfeld was born in New York. A rebelli-ous teen
ther’s railroad photographs from the 1940s! However, the workera s wgero, sre he moved to Seatle and became the frst woman hired a -s a brake
the T-shirts, blue jeans, and baseball caps of the 1980s. T – die-ir job man for the Union Pacifc Railroad. Back in New York, she worked for
verting specifc trains onto specifc t – reacqukirsed the same precision Metro-North and Conrail. On the job, she sustained a serious injury
as ever and lef no room for error. which led to debilitating chronic pain, preventing her from e- ver return
In his railroad photographs of the 1940s, my father, Jack Delaninog t, o work. Sadly, I learned all this from a eulogy writen b- y her par
emphasized the diversity of the workforce, but that diversity wenas atss . She died in 2011, at age ffy-three. According to the eulogy, “She
much the product of wartime pressures as of any particu-lar comtoomitk great pride in being able to do what most considered ‘a man’s job,’”
ment to equal opportunity. Women were employed in various capaac nid “- in some ways she was bigger than life. You always knew when she
ties by the railroads during the war, and captured by my fatherw’s l aens in ts. he room. She was funny; she was exuberant; she loved us all.”
Afer the war, with the return of soldiers from Europe and Asia, the Work at Mot Haven Tower ceased shortly afer I photographed
pool of workers became, as in prewar days, almost exclusively maSaler. Tah F e airfeld and her colleagues due to the computerization of
railtwo female members of the Mot Haven Tower crew whom I found iron ad operations. Similarly, much of the railroading infrastructure in
1985 (one white, one African American) probably owed their jobs tJo ack Delano’s photographs from 1943 had been dismantled or rendered
ixobsolete many years before I met Sarah. Yet, in reviewing t - he pho Pt uo erto Rico that addressed the social prejudices against manual labor,
graphs for this volume, the character of the railroad people my ftita lethde Lr as manos del hombre [Te hands of man].)
photographed seemed to transcend their images, suggestin-g life naArs aran artist or documentarian, Jack Delano did not consider
himtives not so diferent from that of Ms. Fairfeld: imperfect, f- ull ose f slf ttro be aug ny beter, or any more important a person, than t -he individ
gle and heartache but also joy, pride, humor, and a sense of purpouasel.s whose stories he was recording. He was as commited to his work
How did Jack Delano manage to make pictures that so consistenas t thly ey were to theirs; afer all, it w Tas woose wrk. ho agreed to c- ol
evoke such an intensely human drama more than seventy years alf aebor rate with his endeavor seemed to understand this. Tey provided
the pictures were taken? What is it that makes us look at t -hese o h lid pm ac iccess to their world, seting aside suspicions and defenses, thus
tures and feel respect and empathy (not sympathy . . . ), even a cerentaib n ling the creation of intimate, heartfelt images.
bond with their subjects? Why do these photographs stimulate our I have learned a lot from my father’s approach to photography and
senses and afect us so viscerally, ofering us the choking sting o tf aco lirfie (d as have many!). We can learn as well from the experiences of
smoke; the musky stench of heavy denim overalls saturated with sraiwleraot ad workers such as Frank Williams (plate 49), Ben Acory (plate
and grease; the blinding, cuting cold of the yards in January? I c 11a 4n ), o r John Walter (plate 141) in this country over seventy years
suggest two possible factors that address these questions. ago – and people like Sarah Fair f–e albod ut what it means to work
First, the photographer was steeped in the languag e of visuafol r the common good, to take pride in a job well done, to respect one
communication. He was the product of rigorous, formal art traainion t gh , er. Perhaps it is not too far a stretch to suggest that the images
including exercises in composition, design, and color theory. Earmley morialized in this book can play a small role in chipping away at the
exposure to the history of art enabled him to develop a critical eolyd he fo ierr archical notion that some lives mater more than others, and in
works that resonated with his personal values. Travel to t- he g c rhealt mlen uging systems of injustice and prejudice by afrming our basic
seums of Europe, facilitated by a student fellowship, introduced hdeciem tnco y and equality.
the works of masters he came to admire, such as Goya, Daumier, Van When I was about twelve years old I remember discussing with
Gogh, Hogarth, and Toulouse-Lautrec. He also embraced non-Wem sy fteran ther a TV program we watched together, a documentary about an
art, such as Japanese woodcuts and Persian miniature painting. H ae rcheological discovery of prehistoric cave paintings and drawings. As
found within the cultural output of humankind a legacy o -f artt the chaat cmerla se howed us a close-up of an ancient wall drawing of a bird,
brated the everyday lives of so-called “common people,” and he a tshpie freld m’s narrator efused about how remarkable it was that a lifelike,
to make photographs in the spirit of that tradition. naturalistic depiction could be produced by such an ancient people.
Understanding art technique and art history may have provTideid a s characterization seemed perfectly norm – a al tfeo mr alel, it was
useful tool set, but a second factor was essential: Jack De-lano’s pso lhot no g ago and the “cavemen” who drew the bird must have been so . . .
graphs echo at some level his own personal trajectory. I see the ppricimtuitriev s e! However, my father pointed out that the fellow’s atitude was
of rail workers coping with the biter Chicago cold and I remembealr htogis ether wrongheaded. Tey were wpeeorpl ene, ’t they? Why should
stories about growing up in “Russia” (Ukraine), where everyone silt be sept urprising that they would be capable of making beautiful art? Te
huddled around the kitchen stove because it was the only way tmo keaeneip ng of his comment didn’t sink in right away, but I remembered
warm in winter. Yet his identifcation with the people he photog irta. I tphhed ink of the lesson I learned from my father that day when looking
was certainly deeper than that. Like many of the people in fronat ot t f hhe pis hotos in this book, which defne an era but also articulate our
camera, he and his family were immig –r aimnmtsigrants who had lef a human endeavor.
homeland in search of safety or opportunity; immigrants w-illing to sac
rifce and work hard. His father, who had enjoyed a career as a schoo Palb- lo Delano
teacher, could only fnd work in a furniture factory in their adopted
country. So, Jack Delano learned at an early age to respect the dignity
of wor –k any sort of honest work. (Many years later he made a flm in
x ForewordP RE F A C E
It has often been said that the United States is a nation o -f immiDEAR MR. DELANO, I AM FOURTEEN YEARS
grants. While this catchphrase is insensitive to the Native Americans
who lived here before European setlement, it is true for the majority OLD AND WHEN I GROW UP I WANT TO BE
of Americans. In many ways, Jack Delano epitomizes the immigrant
experience in the United States of the twentiet h c– anend i tn souryme A PHOTOGRAPHER LIKE YOU. . . . I LIKE
ways he transcends it. Delano’s story, related in detail in t - he introduc
[DELANO’S] PICTURES BECAUSE THEY tion, is certainly appealing to me because it reminds me of my father’s
family. My father, a Hungarian Slovak who also had Polish ancestors, MAKE ORDINARY PEOPLE IMPORTANT. came to the United States as Stefan Révay in the early 1920s. He would
have been seventeen when World War II broke out in Europe, and if his
family had stayed in Czechoslovakia, he would almost certainly have ANONYMOUS CORRESPONDENT
been conscripted into the army of the pro-Nazi Slovak Republic, and
OF JACK DELANO likely would have died in the war. If he and his family had survived,
they would then have been trapped behind the Iron Curtain from the
late 1940s through 1989.
Coming to the United States meant a diferent future for Stefan and
his family. Just before World War II, Bill Reevy boarded a bus that was
to take him from an agricultural and coal-mining area in w - estern Penn
sylvania to the beginnings of a college education in New York City. His
mother said, “You will need this,” and handed him a birth certifcate.
Bill looked at it and was amazed to see that he had not been born as Bill
Reevy, but as Stefan Révay. Like Jack Delano, he had been remade, in
this case by his parents and the local public school system, through his
immigration to the United States.
Tis family story, and this parallel between my family history
and Jack Delano’s, was part of what led to my fascination with Delano
xiand his life. But it was not just the h – it wstoars ay lso the quality of inexplicable. I am honored to be able, in part and in combination with
Delano’s photos, and the empathy with his subjects that the imagteh s e work of others, to help redress this signifcant gap i -n our under
demonstrate, time afer time afer time. Jack Delano has not been t sthae nding of American photography in the twentieth century.
subject of many books or articles, and the omission is both unfair and
xii PrefaceA C K N O W LED G M E N T S
First, a warm thank you to Linda Oblack and Sarah Jacobi at introduction frst appeared in the journal Railroa Id Hn a isdtdor ity.ion,
Indiana University Press, and to Railroads Past and Present s- eriets ehadni k you to Pablo Delano, Caroline Weaver, th R e a BNilwSFay Com -
tor George M. Smerk. Linda and Sarah epitomize editorial excellpenancye, t! he Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad Company, and the U -nion Pa
Many thanks also to Scot Lothes at the Center for Railro- ad Phoctifogc Railroad Museum for permission to reproduce images. In the case
raphy and Art; the center is one of the major interpreters a- nd po opf tulha e rBNS RF ailway Company, some of the images contain “marks”
izers of Jack Delano’s work. And, as always, Jef Brouws was there, iown ned by the company, including two diferent Atchison, Topeka and
this case as a member of the center’s board of directors, as well aSas inn hta F ie Rs ailway heralds, a Great Northern Railway herald-, and a Chi
usual role as colleague, advisor, confdant, and friend. cago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad herald, which are also reprinted
Many thanks to those who supported my work on this book: t w o mith ty he permission of the BN RaS iFlway Company. All photos in this
employer, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill-, for a U boo nik are by Jack Delano unless otherwise indicated.
versity Research Council grant; to Tomas G. Hoback (president and My editors elsewhere, Laura Dozier at Abrams and Bob Cumming
CEO of the Indiana Rail Road Company) and Susan C. Hoback; and t ao t Iris Press, have made a large contribution to my advancement as an
the Lexington Group in Transportation History for its Overtoan Put rh iozer., as did Robin Heml – e tey acher, mentor, and friend. Te director
A special thank you to Jack Delano’s son, Pablo Delano, a- n exc oef tp he UNC Institute for the Environment, Larry Band, supported this
tional photographer in his own right, for his wonderful foreweo fr od r, at; hnd e is a true mentor as well. Tank you, all of you.
for allowing the use of his photograph of Sarah Fairfeld. I wish I cFoiunla d lly, thank you to my fa –m C ilayroline, Lindley, and I – afon r
have known Jack Delano, but one of the great things about this pyoruor pjecat tience and support. And, in memoriam, Jack Delano, 1914–1997,
has been geting to know Pablo. a man who remade himself in two new worlds. He is, in this observer’s
For assistance with images and research, many, many thanks t vo iew, as well as Edward Steichen’s, “the artistFS” oA/Of t WhIe . He
the wonderful stafs of the Library of Congress an ld tibhrae rUiNCes. worked in a time of economic desperation and war (a time so diferent,
Staf members at the Center for Railroad Photography and Art, tahne d yet in so many ways similar, to our own), and his concern for the
Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, and the New Mexico Museum o pe f Aop rlt e he photographed, and for his fellow Americans, shines out from
Library and Archives also provided research assistance. Much ohf tis ihme ages undiminished afer more than seventy years.
xiiiT HE R A IL RO A D P HO T OGR A P H Y OF J A C K DE L A NO
Jack Delano, Farm Security Administration/Offce of
War Information photographer, full-length portrait,
holding camera, standing on front of locomotive.
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs
Division, LC-USZ62-120966.Figure I.1. View of railroad station. Edwards,
Mississippi. February 1936. Walker Evans.
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division,
FSA-OWI Collection, Reproduction Number
LCUSF342-T01-001295-A (duplicate negative).
2I N T R ODU C T I ON
A REAL RESPECT FOR THE THING IN FRONT OF HIM
Jack Delano (1914–1997) is notable for the way he transcended both NO OTHER PHOTOGRAPHER, NOT EVEN
societies and art forms. Born in Russia, he immigrated with his family
to the United States in 1923. He traveled to Puerto Rico while working DOROTHEA LANGE, CAN SHOW SHINING
for the Farm Security AdministraFStiAo) in ( n 1941, and was so struck
by the island that he moved there in 1946. In addition to living in three THROUGH A BODY OF LAND, OR BUILDINGS,
diferent cultures during his long lifetime, he was successful in a
numOR HANDS AND BACKS AND FACES, THE ber of very diferent art fo – irn mcsluding music, flm, illustration, and
photography.LIVING SPIRIT OF THE PEOPLE MORE During his photographic career, Delano took a number o- f import
ant railroad-subject images. Tese images were largely taken during CLEARLY THAN JACK DELANO.
three distinct per i–od phsotographing migrant workers and ot- her sub
jects for the FSA in 1940 and 1941; photographing US railroads during
REVIEWER OF RAPER’S wartime for the Ofce of War InformaOWtioIn (, the successor to the
FSA) in 1942 and 1943; and photographing the transportation system
TENANTS OF THE ALMIGHT Y of Puerto Rico for the government of Puerto Rico in 1946. Delano’s
railroad-subject work was litle known until 1977, when two books
showcasing his OW imI ages of US railroading during World War II
appeared. Afer a hiatus in atention, two further books appeared in the I THINK IT IS MY LIFELONG CONCERN FOR
early 1990s. Delano’s FSA and OW imI ages included a number of color
images of American railroading, rare for the time period in which they THE COMMON PEOPLE AND APPRECIATION OF
were taken, and these have only recently garnered atention.
THEIR VALUE THAT HAVE BEEN THE DRIVING Delano spent his early childhood as Jacob Ovcharov in a village,
Voroshilovka, in what is now Ukraine, but was then Russia. His mother
FORCE BEHIND EVERY THING I HAVE DONE. was the town dentist and his father taught Russian and m-ath at the lo
cal school. Delano and his family, who were Jewish, would undoubtedly
JACK DELANO
3have perished during the war and the accompanying Holocaust hof fad gures in the struggle against slavery for a meeting of the National
they not immigrated to the United S 1tates. Negro Congress.
Te family came to the United States in 1923, and in what was a While at the academy, Delano was awarded a Cresson Traveling
precursor of Delano’s soon-to-develop love for his family’s new c Sco hu on lta rys, hip, which allowed him to travel to Europe for four months.
they arrived on Jul2y 4 In a c. urious parallel with A Bva alornr,y Levi-n Admirers of American photographic portraiture should recognize this
son’s epic movie of Jewish American and Central European Americ sacn holarship, endowed by the Cresson family, as a major art-istic invest
immigration and assimilation, the young Jacob Ovcharov thoughmt tenth – e because, according to Delano, viewing art in Europe led him to
freworks over New York harbor that day were “the Americans’ wcahy ange his career aspirations from magazine illustrator to photographer
of welcoming us immigrants to their country.” A cousin of Delanspeo’s cializing in portraiture. “I had bought a small camera in Europe,”
mother helped the Ovcharovs with travel arrangements and broDuelgah nt o wrote in his autobiography, Photographic Me “morand nies, ow I
them to their frst home in the United States, the cousin’s house i ben gan to think that perhaps in photographs I could show th- e same con
Bristol, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia. Delano’s family soon mco evr e n ad nd understanding of ordinary people that I found so compelling
to Philadelphia, where his mother did graduate work in dentistir n ty aht e work of the artists [Goya, Van Gogh, Brueghel, Dau -mier, Tou
Temple University while his father moved from his former whitelo-cuoslel-Laar utrec, Gioto, Hokusai] I admired so m 3uch.”
role as a teacher to a job in a furniture factory. Perhaps understan Ad f aebr mly, uch urging from his friends at the academy, Jacob Ovcharov
striking images of working-class laborers later became a major t chaemnge i ed hn is name to Jack Del –a hnios frst name taken from the boxer
Delano’s photographic work. Jack Dempsey, and his last name from the family name of a female
Delano had an uncle, Shlomo, who encouraged Delano to begfin riend at the academy. Te change in his last name came just before he
a serious study of the violin while still a boy in Russia. Delano tgoorak duated, in 1937; he had been called by the frst name Jack since
childup the instrument and, when he moved to Philadelphia, audition heoodd at . He had his name legally changed to Jack Delano in 1940.
the Setlement Music School. He then atended it on a part -ial schol Afer graduation, Delano found himself looking for work during
arship, studying violin, orchestration, and related subjects. Delt ah ne lo ingering economic hard times of the late 1930s. As an unemployed
spent twelve years at the school, as a student, teaching assistanatr, atinstd , he qualifed for a job at one of the great New Deal agencies of the
then teacher. During this time, he also took up the viola and becFarmane klin Delano Roosevel t e– thre Fa ederal Art Project of the famed
a professional musician. Meanwhile, Delano also went through p WubPAl (iWc orks Progress Administration). He took a position the-re photo
school in Philadelphia, atending a racially integrated high sch goora l p, Chienng P- ennsylvania folk art.
tral High School for Boys. Later in life, Delano’s enlightened atitudDels ano soon proposed to his superiors a project on the unemployed
regarding racial issues also infuenced his work, which is replete wantihtrh acite miners of Pennsylvania. Te Federal Art Project, though
socially active images highlighting discrimination, particularfley aargfauil onst f Congressional targeting, reluctantly agreed to support the
African Americans. proposal; Delano took the photos in 1938. Tis work led to an exhibit,
Delano graduated from high school in 1932, during the worst oat a Pf ennsylvania Railroad station in Philadelphia, which atracted the
the Great Depression. He was admited to the Pennsylvania Acadeam ty ention of famed photographer Paul S 4 Etnracnodu.raged by Strand,
of Fine Arts on a partial scholarship, and majored in illustratiown h. Ho we ould later recommend Delano for a position wFSAit, ah tnd he
soon encountered Irene Esser, another student at the school, anld foneglil ing fon r Irene, who had moved to New York City, Delano moved
love with her at their frst meeting. Teir relationship also devetlho e pere ad nd worked as a freelance photog5 rapher.
into a long and multifaceted artistic collaboration. Delano’s care Aelr ath t ough the infuence of Walker Evans is ofen mentioned by
the academy included living in a cooperative rental for art studcrenittics; s of Delano’s photographic oeuvre, the work o – af Sndt, rand
organizing a boycot of Japanese products, such as silk stockingse , tven mo ore importantly, the infuence of one of Strand’s mentors,
protest atrocities commited by the Japanese army in China; assistLienwg is Hine – is arguably more evident in Delano’s images, particularly
the stevedores’ union with a planned strike; and painting huge m huisr p a orls trai6t Isn . Photographic Memories D, elano wrote, “I had read
4 The Railroad Photography of Jack DelanoFigure I.2. In the convict camp in
Greene County, Georgia. May 1941.
Library of Congress, Prints &
Photographs Division, FSA-OWI
Collection, LC-USF34-044770-E.
Introduction 5Figure I.3. Woodville, Greene
County, Georgia. Section of a
house built in the 1830s by the
grandfather of Mr. Wade Durham,
of Woodville, house is now occupied
by a Negro family. October 1941.
Library of Congress, Prints &
Photographs Division, FSA-OWI
Collection, LC-USF34-046133-D.
6 The Railroad Photography of Jack Delanosomewhere that way back in 1917, he [Strand] had stated that to pa crod ourcree spondence with him. Finally, Arthur Rothstein’s departure from
an honest photograph, the photographer had to have ‘a real restpehe c t FSA for Look led to an opening at the agency for Delano in 1- 940. Be
for the thing in front o7f h T ie wm.’ ord ‘respect’ became the guiding hind the scenes, Strand, Marion Post (later Marion Post Wolcot), and
principle of everything I was to do in the future. And ‘the thing iEd n fwirn “onEt d” Rosskam had been urging Stryker to hire D 15 e Dlaelnaono.
of me’ became the basic reason for taking a phot8og De rlapnho a.” lso was to fnd a kindred spirit in Stryker, whose major photog- raphic in
saw Ben Shahn as a major infuence on his w9 H o e soork. n also learned fuences as he started his career at Columbia College were Lewis Hine
of the work of Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson and saw thaen m d Jacob Rii16s.
as infuences, both on his work and on that of the FSA photographerDs ieln ano moved to Washington, DC, and Stryker soon sent him to
genera10l. North Carolina, at frst under the supervision of FSA stafer Rosskam,
In the late 1930s, Delano became aware of the work of Fa -rm Sec“tuo photograph social conditions in the rural areas of the state’s tobacco
rity Administration photographers such as Walker Evans and Do c ro unth tera y17.” Tis trip, and some others in 1940, led to historica-lly inter
Lange. He saw their images in magazines such as aLn o d iokn boo, ks esting, but rarely artistically distinguished, photographs of railroading
such as Evans’s highly infuential Walker E Avmaenrsi:can Photographs. in North Carolina, especially views taken near Elizabeth City to depict
Delano, in fact, made a special trip to see the groundbreaking M tu hse heum ardships sufered by migrants harvesting and loading potatoes
of Modern Art exhibit by Evans, also titled “Walker Evans: Amertich a en re. Seeing an advertisement for marriage licenses along a highway
Photograph11s.” Like photographer David Plowden a generation latein Vr, irginia, Delano was led to propose to Irene, who came to Accomac,
Delano was “stunned” by Evans’s photographs, by their “simplicitVyi, rginia, with her mother and sister. Delano’s mother and father joined
sureness, power, and grace.” But he was also “somewhat disappointtehed m” , and the Delanos married on July 5, 1940. Te newlyweds then
by the emotional aloofness he found in many of the images, and t trhaevir eled, following farm workers, up the eastern seaboard to Maine, a
lack of “human beings of fesh and blood and joys and so12 rrows.” trip which led to increasingly artistically successful railroad-subject
However, on the whole, Delano found the FSA images by Evans to be photographs by Delano.
“extraordinary,” as he did those by Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothste Iirnen, e Delano ofen accompanied her husband as he conducted
and Ben Shahn. He wrote, iPn hotographic Memories “, Here was art photography in the feld. He saw her as a partner in creat-ing his pho
seriously concerned with the plight of the dispossessed, the neet dogy, aranpd hic art. “And I think it was very helpful to have Irene along,”
the landless. I was deeply moved by the pictures, and I thought tDhea lt ano said. “Irene kept the conversation going and kept pe - ople inter
surely people everywhere and legislators in Congress would be e eqsteuad wlly hile I was working away fur18io Iu r senlye D.” elano, when asked
afected and therefore impelled to do something to alleviate tha e mbouist terhy e subjects of Delano’s photography, said, “Well, I think that we
of so many of our peop 13le.” had tremendous respect for the people that we were visiting, and we
In fact, four years later Delano was to create portraits of rfaeilt troahd at they were doing us a great favor to let us be t 19h Heer re , really.”
workers that presented proud working-class Americans, confdenatt iitn ude, combined with Delano’s notable respect for his subjects, must
their work and displaying a sense of craf. Tese portraits, which rhavee ssem-oothed many a photo shoot.
ble those by Jim Shaughnessy and O. Winston Link, despite a lack of Delano stayed with the FSA/O lWonI ger than many, traveling, for
connecting infuence, form a period counterpoint to the minima elx iastm /ple – in a visit that was to shape the rest of h –is c t o P arueerrto
formalist images of Evans and his followers. Tey also, given thReir tco i on lnes ate 1941 and staying there, with an intervening visit to the US
of pride and confdence, are easily diferentiated from the imageVs oirf gin Islands, until March 1942. During 1941, some of his ea rly FSA
“beat” post–World War II Americans found in the work of s-treet p photographs were featured in 12 Million Black V a coicoesl,laboration
tographers such as Robert Frank, who also was strongly infuenbecetd bwey en noted African American author Richard Wright a- nd Dela
Evans. 14 no’s FSA colleague Edwin Rosskam. In December 1941, the United
Delano sent his Pennsylvania coal-mining w FS oAr Hk t iso torical States entered World War II, and by the fall of 1942, the FSA Historical
Section chief Roy Stryker, and despite initial discouragement, keSpect utip on had been transferred to th, we hOWich pI rovided publicity
Introduction 7supporting the US war efort. Delano felt that his best work fo r tbudhe gFSet dA uring the late 1940s, Stryker planned a new project, leaving to
was his photographs of Greene County, Georgia (much of 1941), and d irect the Pitsburgh Photographic Library in 1950. Afer leaving the
of Puerto Rico (December 1941–March 1942), projects which did not Pitsburgh project in 1953, Stryker directed a photography efort for the
produce many signifcant railroad-subject photographs. Te Gre Jenone es and Laughlin Steel Corporation during the mid-1950s. He then
County work was performed, in large part, to support the writisn egrs ovef d as a consultant. Stryker retired to Colorado, where he died in
Arthur F. Raper. Raper’s 1943 booTk, enants of the Almighty, illustrated19 75 at age eighty-tw25o.
with photographs by Delano, was one of the frst signifcant showcaWsehs ile Stryker continued to oversee photography projec-ts through
of Delano’s work. Te images are grouped at the beginning of the booout tk he remainder of his career, Jack Delano was about to remake
as plates and include a number of Delano’s most noted photograhphims, ases lf again, in yet another new land. Toward the end of his military
well as fne photographs such as Delano’s image of a hous-e in Woodservice, Delano applied for a Guggenheim Fellowship, usin g his FSA
ville, Greene County, Georgia (fgure I.3), which are still relativpehly otographs of Puerto Rico as samples of his work. Delano won the
unknown toda20y. prestigious fellowship. Te grant allowed Delano and h-is wife to re
During late 1942 and early 1943, Delano lived in the Chicago areta urn to Puerto Rico. Afer arriving there, the Delanos befriended Luis
and, with the cooperation of the Association of American RailrMoau d nso, z Marín, founder of the Puerto Rican Popular Democratic Party
shot a vast portfolio of images focusing on the US railroad induasn td tryh’s en president of the island’s Senate, and later the fr-st democrati
contribution to the war e 21 f Torits a. ssignment produced a large numc-ally elected governor of Puerto Rico. Delano took about two thousand
ber of high-quality images of US railroading, in both black-and-iwmhaigte es of Puerto Rico during the period immediately following his
and color. Many of the images, particularly the portraits of rarieltrouardn ter o ts, he island. At the time, former Resetlement Administration
achieve great artistic success. From the images, it appears that b h y 1ea9d R42 exford Tugwell was governor of Puerto Rico, and Delano’s
Delano had garnered enough familiarity with th – e r soamieltr hoian dg former FSA colleague Edwin Rosskam and his wife, Louise, were also
he seemed to lack in depth in 1 – 9 t4o c0 onsistently present it in a- n ar there26 . Rosskam was seting up a historical photographic fle of Puerto
tistically successful way. His travels through the UniteFS d SA/tateRs oic n an images for Tugwell, a project Delano soon joined.
OWI business, during a time when the railroad was still omnipresenDt ieln ano covered “transportation on the island” extensively at this
American life, undoubtedly advanced this fruitful conjunction betime t27,w ween ork that later resulted in hFis boorom Sak n Juan to Ponce on
photographer and subject. Te Delano imOWagIes focus on Chicago’s the Train D. elano’s work on Puerto Rican transportation was conducted
Union Station; switching and terminal railroads in the Chicago awhriela; e he was a photographer for the Ofce of Information o- f the gov
and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, as viewed durineg rnment of Puerto Ri28c To. e collection of the Ofce of Information
an epic trip by Delano, on freight trains, from Chicago to Califo wrans sia. tored in the print shops of the Department of Education until the
When Delano reached San Bernardino, California, the assignmen 1t 970s, when Delano, concerned about the collection’s fut- ure, inter
was largely over: he traveled to Los Angeles, and then from thevrene beacd a k nd had it transferred to the General Archives of the Institute
through Chicago to Washington, DC, in Pullman style. of Puerto Rican Culture. Afer the transfer, Delano discovered that
Delano was taken with this assignment and the resulting bod my any of his negatives were missing, including all of those he took of
of work, commenting, “How could I ask for a more exciti-ng assignthe Puerto Rican railroad journey from San Juan to Ponce. From San
ment?”22 Clearly, this part of his life as a photographer afected D Juealn tan o Po once on the Train was compiled using the fle prints of these
deeply. images29.
Delano was drafed soon afer completing th ais ssOWignI ment, In a leter to Roy Stryker in 1946, Irene Delano commented on this
and spent late 1943 through 1946 in the mil23it Warhyi.le Delano served project:
as a wartime photograp24 h Reor,y Stryker lef the OW fo Ir Standard Oil Now Jack is doing a story on transportation. Te other day he took a
(New Jersey), where he conducted a landmark photographic project 2 day trip on the Puerto Rican railroad which is a litle narrow guage
from 1943 through 1950. When Standard Oil cut back its photography [sic] afair. It circles the island but does not go over the mountains.
8 The Railroad Photography of Jack Delano

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