Jul 27, 2007
Oct 1, 2007

Allie Mae Burroughs, Wife of a Cotton Sharecropper, Hale County, Alabama

Allie Mae Burroughs, Wife of a Cotton Sharecropper, Hale County, Alabama

1936, printed later

Walker Evans

(American, 1903–1975)

Gelatin silver print

Image: 23.7 x 18.4 cm (9 5/16 x 7 1/4 in.); Matted: 50.8 x 40.6 cm (20 x 16 in.)

Wishing Well Fund 1973.120



A great deal is known about 27-year-old Allie Mae Burroughs, whose portrait is one of the most iconic images of the Depression. Featured in James Agee and Walker Evans’s book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (on view in this exhibition) under the pseudonym Mrs. Gudger, she was a poor sharecropper’s wife and mother of four. The only thing known about Lange’s subject is the name of her town. These two women in their twenties, faces lined with care, were photographed mug-shot style, head-on against weathered wood walls. Despite facing great adversity, both demonstrate determination and fortitude, and perhaps a hint of defiance at being offered up as specimens of rural and small town suffering during the Depression.

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Wishing Well Fund

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