Had he not passed away in 1975, American photographer Walker Evans would have been 108 on Thursday. Pictured above, biting his pinkie nail, Evans is best known for the pictures he took while working for the Farm Security Administration, a part of the New Deal, during the 1930s. Many of them depict derelict living conditions in the rural South, though Evans worked briefly doing street photography in New York City. Evans was the man behind the lens of the some of the most iconic images of the Depression, including the portraits of Floyd and Allie May Burroughs who appeared as characters in James Agee's sprawling non-fiction opus Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. Evans' black-and-white images illustrated the book which has become a testament to American perseverance.
The FSA's photography program also kept other famous American photographers like Dorothea Lange in work during the Depression, although Roy Stryker, the hard-nosed economist tasked with running the program, had a bad habit of punching holes in the negatives of photographs he didn't like. Still today, a large quantity of Evans' archive is marred by the black dots the holes created when the photos were printed. Scroll all the way down for a video that attempts to reconstruct some of Evans' best hole-punched work. In the meantime, we've pulled together some of Evans' best photographs from the Library of Congress archive.
Scotts Run, West Virginia (1935 July)
Legionnaire, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (1935 Nov.)
Independence Day, Terra Alta, West Virginia (1935 July)
Floyd Burroughs, on mule, Hale County, Alabama (1936 Summer)
Floyd Burroughs, cotton sharecropper. Hale County, Alabama (1935 or 1936)
Floyd Burroughs, Jr., Hale County, Alabama (1936 Summer)
Circus poster, Alabama (1936 Summer)
Bethlehem houses and steel mill. Pennsylvania (1935 Nov.)
Auto dump near Easton, Pennsylvania (1935 Nov.)
Ferry and river men. Vicksburg, Mississippi (1936 Feb.)
Mississippi butcher sign (1936 Mar.)
Negro Barber shop. Atlanta, Georgia (1936 Mar. )
Auto parts shop. Atlanta, Georgia (1936 Mar.)
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