FSA-OWI Photos | About the Collection

FSA-OWI Written Records

          The written records of the FSA-OWI Collection in the Library of Congress are made up of office files, captions for the photographs, supplementary reference files, and scrapbooks. A brief description of some related materials is also included here. For a full listing of materials related to the FSA-OWI Collection, see the Bibliography.

          OFFICE FILES

          These files provide information on the day-to-day operations of the photographic unit. They are arranged by subject in chronological order. "Budget" files include correspondence on personnel, supplies, travel and other expenses. "Film Strips" files include scripts for film strips and slide presentations produced by the section. "Exhibits" files include requests for photographs and displays from other government agencies, private organizations, and museums. "Monthly Reports" recount the photographic unit's activities. "Personnel" files contain notices of appointments, resignations and promotions, requests for employment, and lists of staff members. "Travel" files provide information about travel itineraries and expenses. "Other Activities" files list exhibitions and publications that used the unit's photographs.


          These files contain many--but by no means all--of the sheets of captions for the negatives taken by members of the photographic unit and are in three parts: RA & FSA A-E Series (negatives larger than 35mm, photographed between 1935 and 1942, when the unit was part of the Resettlement Administration and the Farm Security Administration); RA & FSA "Miniature" Series (35mm negatives taken between 1935 and 1942); OWI Negative Series (negatives of all sizes photographed between 1942 and 1944 when the unit was part of the Office of War Information). The caption sheets are arranged in rough numerical order. The photographer's name and the date appear at the beginning of each assignment (negatives from a single photographic assignment were usually assigned a sequential block of numbers). There are also folders for "general captions," the captions that provided the background or summary of an assignment. Captions range from those written by the photographers themselves on hotel stationary, to rough handwritten drafts (often marked up with corrections), to captions in final form written by office staff.

          The caption sheets may be useful because they usually list all the negatives made for each photographic assignment, including rejected or "killed" negatives.


          These files contain general captions as well as background information for LOTs, including photographers' notes, related brochures, clippings, and maps. The files are arranged by LOT number. Note: Not all of the LOTs have a corresponding reference file.


          These files consist of scrapbooks of some of the newspaper and magazine clippings that reported on FSA-OWI activities or used FSA-OWI photographs. Publications range from specialized trade journals to popular magazines. The clippings were attached to 23x19 inch boards and are arranged for the most part in general chronological order. Although not all of the published uses of images are reflected in the scrapbooks, the scrapbooks are valuable in that they give researchers an idea of how the Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information activities were perceived by the press, and the kinds of images that were made available to the public, and how the images were presented.


          The personal papers of Roy Stryker are held by the University of Louisville Photographic Archives. Primarily correspondence with the photographers (including "shooting scripts" and "gossip sheets"), the papers also contain biographical information about Stryker, records from his other photographic projects, and materials relating to the use of Farm Security Administration- Office of War Information photographs in articles, books, and exhibitions. The papers span the years 1887 to 1972, although most date from between 1924 and 1962. Microfilming Corporation of America produced a microfilm set of these papers in 1982, along with a guide and correspondence index prepared by David Horvath entitled Roy Stryker Papers, 1912-1972: a Guide to the Microfilm Edition. Both the microfilm set and the accompanying guide may be consulted in the Prints and Photographs Reading Room, and may also be available at major academic and public libraries.

FSA-OWI Photos | About the Collection