by Hilpert, Zachary Michael

Abstract (Summary)
This thesis will explore the documentary photography of Berenice Abbott, specifically her 1935 planned collaboration with art theorist and critic Elizabeth McCausland to build a portrait of America through images and words. The proposed cross-country journey, which never came to fruition due to a lack of willing funding sources, aimed to produce a book of photographs and journalistic writing titled, "America. The 48 states," a manuscript intended to capture the essence of the country during the Great Depression. Though the project itself was never realized, Abbott shot a handful of preliminary photographs during a self-funded trip, and she and McCausland produced a small but dense collection of documentation surrounding the proposed efforts. Such a bold attempt to create a serious portrait of America, at a time when no similar book had yet been published, says as much about these two important figures in the history of documentary photography as it does about the ensuing influx of images that would, a short time later, reveal to the country just how low the conditions of their fellow citizens had sunk in many parts of the nation. The plans for the America series were not only an attempt by Abbott and McCausland to define their culture as they saw it, but the proposal was also Abbott's first grand statement of her photographic and social principles, and a harbinger of her subsequent and most vital work.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Bowling Green State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:berenice abbott elizabeth mccausland documentary photography american history the great depression


Date of Publication:01/01/2006

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