Hope for the future

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Margaret Bourke-White, Shock Brigadier, ca. 1931 (622.1994)

From 1930 through 1932 Margaret Bourke-White visited the U.S.S.R. to document the first Five Year Plan, a series of nationwide centralized plans to transition from an agricultural society to an industrial economy. During several trips she took hundreds of photographs, but selected only 24 images for the portfolio Photographs of the U.S.S.R. 

In the introduction Bourke-White wrote:

Three trips to the Soviet Union taught me it is more than a land of windswept steppes, villages gathered into collective farms, rising factories and growing power dams. Behind the machines stand men and women. […]

In selecting the photographs for this portfolio from the hundreds I have taken, I chose those which show these men and women rather than their machines. Soviet Russia’s story is not only one of the building of industry; it is the story of a people professing steadily toward richer living, a people raising their babies in hygienic nurseries, sending their children to schools in villages where the light of education never penetrated before [and] going to circus and ballet […]

These photographs are brief glimpses into a vast land of tremendous and rapid change. So much happens, and happens so fast, that it is impossible to capture the whole progression on sheets of panchromatic film. Each year that I have visited the Soviet Union I have found it a different country, each year there were new factories, new collective farms, new cities, each year greater achievements, greater hope for the future. […]

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Margaret Bourke-White, Chain Belt Movement: Machine Dance, ca. 1931 (620.1994)

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Margaret Bourke-White, Col. Hugh L. Cooper: Chief Consulting Engineer at Dnieprostroi, ca. 1931 (630.1994)

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Margaret Bourke-White, A Street Car Conductor: Moscow, ca. 1931 (610.1994)

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