Segments in this Video

Post-WWI America: Agriculture to Industry (03:41)


Archival photographs and film footage show the story of post-WWI America. America was in the process of shifting from an agricultural economy to an industrial one. Pres. Roosevelt unifies the nation with his fireside chats.

Images of the Great Depression (03:37)

Roy E. Stryker is first hired to provide illustrations for a textbook at Columbia University. In the 1930s, visual imagery took on historic importance. The government uses photographers to promote its own programs.

Photographers Record the Great Depression (02:55)

Roy E. Stryker assembles a group of photographers that includes Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein, and Gordon Parks.

1930s: Photographic Documentation (02:37)

Stryker and his crew of photographers expand their scope of photography and take pictures of people in all aspects of their lives. This segment features a variety of photographs from the 1930s.

Traveling Photographic Exhibitions in the 1930s (01:38)

The Farm Security Administration creates traveling exhibitions of works by Stryker's photographers. By the end of the 1930s, Congress took control of what it thought was propaganda. The photographs raised the bar for photographers everywhere.

Congress Against Photographic Documentation (02:00)

Many of Roosevelt's New Deal projects prompted Congress to complain of "too much government." By 1939, there was strong opposition to the Farm Security Administration's photographic documentation.

War Propaganda Photography (03:15)

As America readied for WWII, there was more emphasis on farm production and less on farm support programs. Stryker's photographers document U.S. war efforts in what amounts to propaganda instead of documentation.

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Stryker’s America: Photographing the Great Depression

DVD Price: $99.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $149.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $99.95



Roy E. Stryker headed the Historical Division of the Farm Security Administration from 1935 to 1943. This program tells the story of how Stryker, a low-level federal bureaucrat with integrity and vision, managed a massive New Deal project to document the Great Depression. These photos—nearly 200,000 by both established and aspiring photographers, including Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parks, Arthur Rothstein, and many others—became the defining statement of the era. Many signature images of poverty and hardship are included. Narrated by Beverly Brannan, curator of photography at the Library of Congress; Alan Fern, retired director of the National Portrait Gallery; and Peter Kuznick, professor of history at American University. (23 minutes)

Length: 23 minutes

Item#: BVL37533

ISBN: 978-1-4213-7975-3

Copyright date: ©2007

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

“[Stryker’s America] is the most coherent exposition of the essence and accomplishment of the Stryker group… [The] production is really first-rate: beautifully written, thoughtfully produced, and splendidly filmed.”  —Alan Fern, Director (Retired), National Portrait Gallery


“It truly is a wonderful film that brings a deeper understanding to Stryker’s work at the FSA. Stryker’s America goes beyond the general knowledge that we already have about this important documentary project and provides background that explains Stryker’s goals and motivation. To be honest, the visuals alone could be used to spark an interesting discussion about what we know regarding that period in American history.”  —Dennis Chamberlin, Assistant Professor, Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, Iowa State University


“The work of Roy Stryker and his FSA photographers was a seminal event in the history of documentary photography. Much has been written about the FSA project but only a visual documentary can do these iconic images justice. Stryker’s America does it brilliantly and concisely, bringing the story of the conception of this historic visual record to a new generation.”  —Arnold H. Drapkin, Picture Editor (Retired), Time Magazine


Stryker’s America is an excellent description of how Roy E. Stryker led his photographers at the FSA to be honest, accurate, and deeply sensitive as they went about the nation documenting the Great Depression.”  —James P. Blair, Photographer, National Geographic


Stryker’s America is a wonderful video profile of a significant period of photographic history. Although I’ve been looking at FSA photographs for 30 years,…Stryker’s America gave me fresh and new insights on the importance of Stryker, the man, and the influence of the extraordinary project he guided. I very much enjoyed the information provided by the experts you interviewed, much of which I was not aware. I should think every student of photography would benefit greatly from viewing…Stryker’s America. Job well done.”  —Kathleen Ewing, Executive Director, The Association of International Photography Art Dealers


Stryker’s America is an amazingly beautiful project… the quality is exquisite… I am very impressed with this documentary… wow!—All of the shots are beautifully placed and the sequences of photos unravel so perfectly, very well done, very well produced.”  —Laurie Scheer, TV Producer, Author, and University Lecturer


Received 8.6 out of 10 stars from MicroFilmmaker Magazine.



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