Stryker, Roy Emerson

(1893-1975)
   Born in Great Bend, Kansas, Roy Stryker graduated from high school in 1912 and entered the Colorado School of Mines. He failed to complete his studies and served in the infantry during World War I. After the war, Stryker went to Columbia University to study economics. There he met Rexford Tugwell, and after graduating he taught economics with him. When Tugwell was appointed to head the Resettlement Administration (RA) in 1935, he made Stryker chief of the Historical Division of Information with responsibility for documenting the impact of the Great Depression on rural America. Stryker gathered a team of photographers, including Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee, Arthur Rothstein, and Ben Shahn. The project continued after 1937 when the RA became the Farm Security Administration, and together the group compiled some of the most iconic images of the 1930s. Of 250,000 photographs, some 77,000 were used in such magazines as Life and Fortune by the press and in exhibitions across the country to publicize the plight of the rural poor and the work of the New Deal.
   In 1942, the photographic unit was reassigned to the Office of War Information and then disbanded. Stryker resigned his position and worked for Standard Oil from 1943 to 1950, again choosing photographers to record the company’s work. Some of the team of photographers followed Stryker when he established the Pittsburgh Photographic Library at the University of Pittsburgh from 1950 to 1952. From there, Stryker documented the work at Jones & Laughlin Steel before returning to Colorado, where he did freelance work and acted as a consultant.

Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . . 2015.

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