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Oral history interview with Russell and Jean Lee, 1964 June 2

Lee, Russell Werner, 1903-1986



Collection Information

Size: 36 Pages, Transcript

Format: Originally recorded on 1 sound tape reel. Reformatted in 2010 as 2 digital wav files. Duration is 1 hr., 44 min.

Summary: An interview of Russell and Jean Lee conducted 1964 June 2, by Richard Doud, for the Archives of American Art.
Russell speaks of his background and education; his early interest in photography; meeting Roy Stryker and Ben Shahn; early assignments with FSA covering floods and droughts in the Midwest; overcoming technical problems while traveling around; cameras he experimented with; working in small towns and rural areas; working under Roy Stryker. He recalls John Vachon, Arthur Rothstein, and Walker Evans. Jean speaks of her first association with the FSA and working under Paul Vanderbilt. Both give personal opinions of the value of the work produced by the FSA, and speak of feelings toward the rural people who were the focus of the FSA project.

Biographical/Historical Note

Russell Lee (1903-1986) was a photographer with the Farm Security Administration. Jean Russell was an administrator under Paul Vanderbilt with the Farm Security Administration of Austin, Tex.


This interview conducted as part of the Archives of American Art's New Deal and the Arts project, which includes over 400 interviews of artists, administrators, historians, and others involved with the federal government's art programs and the activities of the Farm Security Administration in the 1930s and early 1940s.

Language Note

English .


Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.

How to Use This Collection

Transcript: 35mm microfilm reel 3697 available at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.

Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Russell and Jean Lee, 1964 June 2. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.