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Marion Post Wolcott

Marion Post was to Walter and Marion Hoyt Post in Montclair, New Jersey, on June 7, 1910. Her father was a prominent family physician, and she and older sister Helen were educated in the finest private schools. She studied modern dance with Ruth St. Denis at New York City's New School for Social Research and with Doris Humphrey at New York University. After an elementary education internship at Vassar College, Miss Post saw the ravages of the Great Depression firsthand while teaching at a boarding school in a small Massachusetts town populated mostly by struggling millworkers. The socioeconomic inequality she witnessed left a profound impression. On a two-year sojourn in Europe, she attended the University of Vienna to study child psychology. There, she met photographer Trude Fleischmann, with whom Helen was studying. Ms. Fleischmann lent the younger Post sibling a camera and encouraged her to apply her natural artistic talents to photography.

Upon her return to the United States, she began teaching at Hessian Hills School in Croton-on-Hudson, New York while also working as a freelance photographer. She took portraits of the directors and actors of New York City's Group Theatre, and also served as the lone female photographer for Philadelphia's Evening Bulletin. The Rolleiflex camera soon became her favorite for its small, compact size and its twin lens reflex. Her interest in documenting social problems led her to the Farm Security Administration in July 1938, where she joined an impressive photographic staff that included Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange. For the next three years, she traveled across America, critically examining the rural landscape through the lens of her Rolleiflex. She later observed, "I think landscape can tell a great deal about living conditions as well as the people and the clothes they wear, and the diapers on the line, or whatever other evidence there is around. I think the landscape and the beauty of it or the vastness of it can tell a great deal about the country and the people." Through her involvement with the FSA, she met Department of Agriculture administrator Lee Wolcott, whom she married on June 6, 1941. In the fall of that year, she embarked upon her final FSA photo assignment, which took her to the Great Plains, where she produced her most most moving images.


Mrs. Wolcott retired shortly thereafter to raise a family of four children. She died on November 24, 1990 at the age of 80, but her photographic record of the Great Depression and its aftermath live on in several permanent collections that include New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art and International Center of Photography, Rochester's George Eastman House, Chicago's Art Institute, Houston's Museum of Fine Arts, and Ottawa's National Gallery of Canada.






Ref:
2012 Children on Porch, Leaning on Railing. Pursglove, West Virginia. September 1938 (URL: http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/dustbowl/photos).

2004 Encyclopedia of the Great Plains (Lincoln, NE: Center for Great Plains Studies), p. 132.

2015 Marion Post Wolcott with Rolleiflex and Speed Graphic in Hand in Montgomery County, Maryland (URL: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa2000010646/PP).

2013 North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century: A Biographical Dictionary (New York: Routledge), p. 585.

2015 Oral History Interview with Marion Post Wolcott, 1965 January 18 (URL: http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/interviews/oral-history-interview-marion-post-wolcott-12262).

2011 Southscapes: Geographies of Race, Region, and Literature by Thadious M. Davis (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press), p. 24.

1939 Photo, Library of Congress Prints and Photograph Division, Washington D.C.


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