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Course of Study: Researching Society and Culture
Name of Designated Person authorising scanning: Christine Shipman
Title: Changing Works
Name of Author: Harper, D.
Name of Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Name of Visual Creator (as appropriate):
Research with Photographs
I do not see the SON! photos as having a simple correspon
dencc with the past. Rather, I used the images to construct a history based on the mcmories of several people with quite different experiences and orientaticms.
That having been said, the research project benefited from several, fortunate co incidences. The most important was that the SON] documentary project was di rected hyan individual whose goal was to recorclnormal events and occasions. In fact, inspircd and informed b\ his friendship with the sociologists Robert and Ilelcn
Lynd, Stryker hacllong vic\\ed documentary photograph\ as "visual ethllography."
The SON] project \\as, in t:lct, born of his frustrations experienced as an econom ics professor in the 192Us \\ith conventional, number-dri\cn economics pedagogy, and his desire to find a \\,1\ to communicate the abstractions of economics anc! the related soci,d scienccs through photographs.
The second happy coincidence \\'as that the SON] images portrayed agriculture in precisely the era in which I was interested: as it was moving from largely animal powered and cooperatively organized ha[\'ests to the industrialized and noncoop erative forms which arc prevalent today.
The third coincidence which made this study possihle was that the elderly fann ers I knew in the North Country were the right age to havc cxperienced the events portrayed in the SONJ images. Thcy were then youngsters or voung farmers, and many of their memories addressed how the generation hefore them had farmed.
Fig.4 Putting up snow
Thus, m\' stuck eaptmes a moment which would otherwise go Illlrecorc!ed. As Scott
fences, Route 15, Steuben
DeVeaux characterized his study of behop, mine "lives at the shaclO\\\ jUllctllre at
County, New York, Novem
which the liH'c! experience ... becomes transformed into cultmalmcl1lon."I) As
ber 1945. Photograph by
I complete this hook sc\eral \cars after I did many of the intcniews, I rcali7.e that
Fig. 5 The Acres men in
most of the farmers who could relate their experiences to the SON J images are ei
about 1980. Left to right,
ther deceased or so elderly as to make the in-depth interviewing very difficult. In an other five years, the generation I have written about will be gonc.