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Family Portrait: 1936

Family Portrait: 1936

Summer of 1936. William Edward "Bud" Fields, wife Lily Rogers Fields and infant daughter Lilian at their sharecropper cabin in Hale County, Alabama. Photograph by Walker Evans for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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Fields Bandanna

I seem to recall reading an interview with Lilian Fields who said that her father had some kind of abscess or skin lesion on his chest when the photo was taken. He draped a red bandanna around his neck to conceal it.

Newspaper Decor?

What's in the clipping on the wall? I can't quite tell. Thanks!

[I don't know if it's from a newspaper, but it says "The little Drakes." - Dave]

Family Portrait: 1936

Notice the clean white sheets. I imagine the work it must have taken to keep them that way. It says a great deal.

The Fieldses

At least they live in a cabin. There was a photo recently showing a family living in a tent.

Fields family

"The Most Famous Story We Never Told" (Fortune magazine). Includes a brief interview with a grandson of Bud Fields and other descendants of the Hale County families depicted in Evans's photographs and in the book "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men."

More on Walker Evans here.

Where is Lilian now

I want to know where the baby is now-- what is life like now? She'd be roughly 73-ish. How does it affect someone to be in a "historical" photo? Especially one documenting rural poverty of this kind.

Older man, younger woman

I am fascinated by the age difference. Maybe there is hope for me yet.

Fourth person...

The only creepy thing I see on this picture is called poberty.

[Let's not forget ignorance. - Dave]

Fourth Person

The caption mentions nothing about the mysterious (and somewhat sinister looking) individual, peeking through the door behind them.

[It's Grandma - probably Lily's mother. - Dave]

The Door

Who is that coming through the door behind them? Creepy.

Are there not four in this picture?

Am I imagining ghosts, or isn't a fourth person peeking around the back door?

Lewis Hine

What a fascinating and beautiful collection.

[Agreed, although this photo is by Walker Evans, not Lewis Hine. - Dave]

No guile,

no deceit, no looking away: a direct gaze, right at the camera. This is us, they seem to say: poor, proud and as honest as our home is bare.
Denny Gill
Chugiak, Alaska

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