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Picturing FaithPhotography and the Great Depression$
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Colleen McDannell

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780300104301

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300104301.001.0001

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New Mexico's Patriots

New Mexico's Patriots

(p.139) 6 New Mexico's Patriots
Picturing Faith

Colleen McDannell

Yale University Press

This chapter discusses John Collier's photographs of New Mexico, their captions, his correspondence, and “Portrait of America.” It shows how his photographs exemplify the modifications carried out by the changing mission of the Historical Section to the place of religion within the FSA/OWI file. Before the United States joined the Allied forces in World War II, photographers used religious activities as evidence of the culture of the poor. Their photographs illustrated the physical beauty of rural church life and stressed elements of American religion often overlooked by writers and even the participants themselves. In other cases, pictures of religious behaviors were used to demonstrate the need for social reform while at the same time marginalizing the charitable activities of faith communities. Before Pearl Harbor, photographers' commitments to the New Deal and their attraction to vernacular forms of art shaped how they understood religious behavior.

Keywords:   religious behavior, John Collier, New Mexico, Portrait of America, Historical Section

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