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World War II (1939-1945) was a global conflict involving most of the world’s great powers. This period offered women journalists with opportunities to cover one of the most historic events. Therese Bonney, Toni Frissell, Marvin Breckinridge Patterson, Clare Boothe Luce, Janet Flanner, Esther Bubley, Dorothea Lange, and Mary Craig, these were some of the women who came to the front during the Second World War driven by the desire to reveal the truth about the war. They were all professional photographers as well as journalists even before the outbreak of the war.
Dorothea Lange (1895-1965) was an American photographer and photojournalist. Her work was inspired by the onset of the Great Depression. She was determined to use her photographs as an instrument for social change. During her employment at the Farm Securities Administration (FSA), she documented the plight of people living in poverty in the United States and the inhumane treatment of persons living in the Japanese internment camps (Library of Congress, 2010).
Her photographs worked as evidence of indignities at the camps, and due to this, her work was greatly censored by the then government. It was not until 1972 that her work was widely recognized by the world when incorporating twenty-seven of her photographs by the Whitney Museum was done. A Guggenheim Fellowship was awarded to her, but she later gave it up after the Pearl Harbor attack to cover the relocation of Japanese Americans to camps.
Like Dorothea Lange, Esther Bubley (1921-1998) was an American photographer who also greatly impacted photojournalism and documentary photography. Like Dorothea, she also had associations with the Farm Security Administration from where her photographic unit was transferred to the Office of War Information (OWI). There she was recruited by Roy Stryker. She used photographs of wartime victims to document life on the home front during the war (Library of Congress, 2010).
Clare Boothe Luce
Clare Boothe Luce (1903-1987) was an American congresswoman, ambassador, playwright, and socialite. Unlike Dorothea and Esther, photojournalism was a part-time vocation, her full time being a playwright. She worked for Life magazine, where she published interviews with Generals and commanders of the British troops. Based on a controversial article for the Life magazine, she was placed under house arrest in Trinidad by the British customs. She also experienced bombing raids in Europe. Her work influenced Winston Churchill in policy revisal (Library of Congress, 2010). She toured Europe and Asia, compiling reports of her observations of the war between Japan and China.
Dorothea Lange’s work was mainly concentrated on the Japanese internment rather than the World War as compared to the rest. They also show perseverance in their career as this period of the war was marred with feminist ideology.
Library of Congress. (2010). Women Come to the Front: Journalists, Photographers, and Broadcasters during World War II. Library of Congress Exhibitions. Web.