Historic Questa Images
of Questa Village
Russell Lee grew up in Ottawa, Illinois. He started working as a chemist, but gave up the position to become a painter. Originally he used photography as a precursor to his painting, but soon became interested in photography for its own sake. He recorded the people and places around him.
In the fall of 1936, during the Great Depression, Lee was hired for the federally sponsored Farm Security Administration (FSA) photographic documentation project of the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. He joined a team assembled under Roy Stryker, along with Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein, and Walker Evans. Stryker provided direction and bureaucratic protection to the group, leaving the photographers free to compile what in 1973 was described as “the greatest documentary collection which has ever been assembled.” Lee created some of the iconic images produced by the FSA.
In 1947 Lee moved to Austin, Texas and continued photography. In 1965 he became the first instructor of photography at the University of Texas there.
Notes from the Library of Congress, except “identifications in quotes, provided by Tessie Rael y Ortega in 2002.”