Roy Stryker

I was pretty unsophisticated when I took that job as far as how to pick a photographer. Let’s be very honest about it. In that job and elsewhere, I began to realize it was curiosity, it was a desire to know, it was the eye to see the significance around them. Very much what a journalist or a good artist is, is what I looked forAnd above all else, …, a sincere, passionate love of people, and respect for people.

-Roy Stryker

In 1935 President Roosevelt’s advisors set up the Farm Security Administration, aka the FSA. The advisors who were known as the brain trust, set up this agency to help rural farmers. The aim was that photographs and newspaper articles would aid the passing of the New Deal relief legislations way through congress. The photographs showed all Americans the plight of the needy farmers. The development of the photo collection and it’s distribution was the job of the historical department. The department director was Roy Emerson Stryker.

It was Strykers job to choose which photographers made the images and which images made the media at the time. Stryker states in his quote the qualities that he was looking for above all were “a sincere, passionate love of people, and a respect for people.”

The images that were rejected were identified by the Stryker hole punch, rendering the image or negative redundant. The image below documents migratory labour in Florida, one of Strykers rejected images.

Stryker was a humanitarian and he worked diligently for the farming community. Our shared interests in migratory labour and their challenges are clear. He brought images to the American people giving them a very visual understanding of the difficulties that the farmers were experiencing. Stryker was also responsible for archiving over 170000 images and negatives in the Library of Congress.

AMER, Aïda. 2018. ‘How a Hole Punch Shaped Public Perception of the Great Depression’. Atlas Obscura [online]. Available at: [accessed 26 Apr 2021].CloseDeleteEdit

‘Roy Stryker’. 2013. Photos of The Great Depression [online]. Available at: [accessed 10 May 2021].

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