Milton Rogovin, 1909-2011

Every person has a story. And every picture tells one. Milton Rogovin, one of the great social documentary photographers, has died at age 101. He concentrated his imagery on the poor, whom he called “the forgotten ones.” He was blacklisted during the Communist scare of the 1950s.

He explained how the Depression politicized his work in this 2004 interview:


The loss of my father’s business, his following death, and the concrete events I witnessed of people suffering everyday during the Depression completely changed my thinking, and as a result I became politically active. I felt that it was not enough just to feel these things, and that I had to do something to help change the situation. I could no longer be indifferent and like many others at the time I worked for a better future through socialism. I read books by political activists, such as Michael Gold’s Jews Without Money (1930) and Change the World (1937), and numerous essays by Emma Goldman, which confirmed my feeling that changes were necessary and we had to do it ourselves.

You can find more of his work at the Library of Congress, which is the repository for his photographs. The New York Times’ Lens blog also has an interview and more photographs here.

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