Images matter. They inform, they entertain, they even impact how we view the world.
Some images embed themselves into the very fabric of our cultural and national history, in part defining who we are as a people.
During the Depression of the 1930's, photographers for the Farm Security Administration traveled the country taking pictures of the people and scenes they encountered. The photos show the extreme hardships that people faced while some show remarkable courage and resilience.
"Migrant Mother" by Dorothea Lange has become the iconic picture of the era. The picture shows Florence Owens Thompson, a 32 year old mother with two of her children. Lange at the time wrote in her notes "Seven hungry children. Father is native Californian. Destitute in pea pickers' camp because of failure of the early pea crop."
Lewis W. Hine, a quarter century before the Depression, documented the plight of child labor in the US. Children often as young as 6 years old worked in mills, fields, mines and as messengers. Child labor steals not just from the children's future but it also depresses wages and opportunities for adults. Hine's photographs were instrumental in changing the child labor laws in the United States.
As we go though our daily lives — taking care of our families, spending time with friends, doing our jobs — it's easy to forget that the challenges we face every day are shared by nearly everyone. And sadly, some face far greater challenges that we can ever imagine.
The reality of poverty and pain in America is hidden or glossed over by the nightly news. People suffering are described as statistics; 40 million working poor, or 20 million unemployed or one million foreclosures per month. But behind every one of these statistics is a face and a story. We seek to bring out some of these stories and highlight faces that make them real.
In the past we have overcome great adversity in ways that have inspired the world. Today we are facing new challenges and new opportunities. How we work together to face these challenges is a reflection of who we are.
SeeingAmerica.org is about trying to capture the shared American experiences that define who we are as a people and a nation - our troubles and our triumphs.
The idea behind the site is simple - anyone can upload photos and vote for their favorites. We select the best and tell the stories of the people shown - who they are, what they’re doing, and how they got where they are.