The Railroad Photography of Jack Delano

The Railroad Photography of Jack Delano

Reevy, Tony
Distribution: World
Publication date: 12/14/2015
Format: Hardback 33 color illus., 140 b&w illus., 3 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-01777-2
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2016 AAUP Public and Secondary School Library Selection

Born in the Ukraine, photographer Jack Delano moved to the United States in 1923. After graduating from Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1937, Delano worked for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and the Office of War Information (OWI) as a photographer. Best known for his work for the Office of War Information during 1940–1943, Jack Delano captured the face of American railroading in a series of stunning photographs. His images, especially his portraits of railroad workers, are a vibrant and telling portrait of industrial life during one of the most important periods in American history. This remarkable collection features Delano’s photographs of railroad operations and workers taken for the OWI in the winter of 1942/43 and during a cross-country journey on the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway, plus an extensive selection of his groundbreaking color images. The introduction provides the most complete summary of Delano’s life published to date. Both railroad and photography enthusiasts will treasure this worthy tribute to one of the great photographers of the thirties and forties.

Author Bio

Tony Reevy is Senior Associate Director of the Institute for the Environment at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of O. Winston Link: Life Along the Line: A Photographic Portrait of America's Last Great Steam Railroad.


Jack Delano had a successful career as a photographer and was widely recognized for his evocative scenes of railway workers and their equipment. In this book, Reevy has presented a topical summary for a comprehensive and well-designed coverage of this worthy subject.Tony Reevy has given us an intimate, well-researched masterwork about Jack Delano’s rail-related photography created during his early 1940s tenure with the FSA/OWI. Delano’s photography is foregrounded and given the fulsome aesthetic and historical consideration it deserves. Coupled with Reevy’s thoughtful essays, a deeper contextual appreciation of Delano’s imagery—and its heretofore underrated position within the pantheon of American photography—emerges.Kudos to Tony Reevy for skillfully capturing photographer Jack Delano’s love affair with America’s railroads during the mid-20th century. I am especially taken by Delano’s evocative portraits of the men and women of the Santa Fe, who together with countless other railroaders, contributed mightily to America’s efforts during World War II.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Pablo Delano
Preface: A Re-Made Man
Introduction: A Real Respect for the Thing in Front of Him
1. Portfolio One: The Farm Security Administration Photos, 1940-1942
2. Portfolio Two: OWI: Chicago
3. Portfolio Three: OWI: Across the Continent on the Santa Fe
4. Portfolio Four: FSA/OWI: The American Railroad in Color, 1940-1943
Appendix: Notes on the Plate Captions and on the Plates
Appendix: Roy Stryker’s FSA/OWI Shooting Scripts Concerning American Railroads

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