The Hedgehog Review

The Hedgehog Review: Vol. 16 No. 3 (Fall 2014)

Picturing the Poor: Photographs of Poverty in America

Leann Davis Alspaugh

Reprinted from The Hedgehog Review 16.3 (Fall 2014). This essay may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission. Please contact The Hedgehog Review for further details.

The Hedgehog Review

The Hedgehog Review: Fall 2014

(Volume 16 | Issue 3)

When another generation shall have doubled the census of our city, and to that vast army of workers, held captive by poverty, the very name of home shall be a bitter mockery, what will the harvest be?” —Jacob Riis, How the Other Half Lives

Riis, an investigative journalist of Danish origin, had no experience as a photographer when he first began documenting the lives of tenement dwellers in New York’s Mulberry Bend neighborhood. However, he soon became adept with a box camera and showed his photographs while he gave public lectures on what he found in the slums. An editor from Scribner’s offered Riis the chance to publish his work, and How the Other Half Lives appeared in 1890, quickly becoming a classic of social-reform photography.

View a spread from the photo essay >>


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