Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans were two of the most famous photographers to work for the federal government during the Great Depression. Hired by the Farm Security Administration (FSA), their task was to document what was happening all over the country. Since they worked for the government, they didn’t actually “own” any of their work: the government retained rights to every photograph taken.
What this means for you: you’re able to view great quality, high resolution images of all FSA photographs currently available through the Library of Congress. Although Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother (left) is without a doubt the most well-known of the bunch, there are hundreds of amazing photographs to view. Here is a link to Lange’s entire set of prints while working with this family.
Here is a great article about the FSA photographers of the 1930’s and 40’s, which also includes rare interviews with the subjects of some of the photos shown.
Another great series of photographs owned by the government is the Rosie series, highlighting women who took over factory jobs while men were away fighting during World War II. Those photos can be found on the Library of Congress website, or by clicking here.