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Grandchildren of Ella Watson, Government Charwoman, Washington, D.C.

Gordon%20Parks%2C%20%3Cb%3E%3Ci%3E%20Grandchildren%20of%20Ella%20Watson%2C%20Government%20Charwoman%2C%20Washington%2C%20D.C.%3C%2Fi%3E%3C%2Fb%3E%2C%201942%20%28negative%29%3B%20printed%20later%2C%20gelatin%20silver%20print%2C%20Gift%20of%20Paul%20Dahlquist%2C%20public%20domain%2C%201995.44.7
Gordon Parks, Grandchildren of Ella Watson, Government Charwoman, Washington, D.C., 1942 (negative); printed later, gelatin silver print, Gift of Paul Dahlquist, public domain, 1995.44.7

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Details
Title

Grandchildren of Ella Watson, Government Charwoman, Washington, D.C.

Artist

Gordon Alexander Buchanan Parks (American, 1912-2006)

Date

1942 (negative); printed later

Medium

gelatin silver print

Dimensions (H x W x D)

image: 19 3/8 in x 15 1/2 in; sheet: 19 7/8 in x 15 15/16 in

Inscriptions & Markings

inscription: 13426, verso top right

inscription: LC-VSF 34TO1 Gordon Parks, verso top center

inscription: 213686, graphite, verso top left

stamp: Reproduced from the collections of the Library of Congress, blue ink, verso upper center

Collection Area

Photography

Category

Photographs

Object Type

photograph

Culture

American

Credit Line

Gift of Paul Dahlquist

Accession Number

1995.44.7

Copyright

public domain

Terms

children

dolls

gelatin silver prints

photographs

portraits

Description

Before becoming Life magazine’s first African American staff photographer in 1948, Gordon Parks worked for the Historical Section of the Farm Security Administration, which documented the struggles of Depression-era Americans. In 1942, Parks photographed Ella Watson, who cleaned the Farm Security Administration office building in Washington, D.C. This interaction resulted in the iconic photograph known today as American Gothic, in which Watson is depicted standing in front of an American flag holding a mop in one hand and a broom in the other. Parks also visited Watson’s residence, a small apartment she shared with her adopted daughter and three grandchildren, two of whom are depicted in this portrait. The children lean upon and cherish a Caucasian doll, calling attention to the poignant imaginary world of youngsters growing up in the midst of racial discrimination and poverty.

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