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During America’s Great Depression, the Information Division of the U.S. Farm Security Administration sent out an army of photographers to document the hard years, the poor and their poverty, their shattered homes and their fractured morals. Over 160,000 images were captured, but less than half made it to print.

Heading the photography program was Roy Stryker, a highly educated economist and a photographer himself. Stryker made sure that the photographers were well briefed on what was wanted from them before being sent out. When they returned with their negatives, Roy Stryker and his team of editors went through them ruthlessly. Any photograph failing to meet his high standard was physically defaced by punching holes through them, so that the discarded images could not be reused. This heavy-handed editing methodology earned Roy Stryker fair amount of infamy.

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