Jack Delano joined the Farm Security Administration in 1940 during its middle years (1937-1942) and worked for the agency and its successor, the OWI, for three years. His biggest assignment was in Puerto Rico for four months in 1941 and 1942. The introductory essay by Esmeralda Santiago (who was born in Puerto Rico) describes Delano's time on the islands and how he fell in love with the country and the people, he took just over a thousand photos, and twelve are included in these pages. In 1945 Delano and his wife Irene returned to live on the islands and he died there in 1997.
Santiago doesn't mention in her essay an assignment the he carried out in March to April 1943. Travelling from Chicago to Los Angeles on freight trains to photograph the railroad industry during wartime. (272 of these photos were published in The Iron Horse at War: The United States Government's photodocumentary project on American railroading during the Second World War). Also not mentioned is Delano's use of color. Kodak introduced 35mm film in 1936 though because color was not used for editorial in newspapers or magazines the FSA/OWI used the new format sparingly. The book does have eleven photos in color, including four from the railroad assignment. (Fifty-two of his color photos are in Bound for Glory: America in Color 1939-43).
Look through the fifty photos in the book and it's clear to see why Delano was considered one of the leading photographers on Roy Stryker's staff along with Evans, Lee, Rothstein, Shahn and Wolcott. Like them his photos tell a sympathetic and humane story.
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