Romancing the West Photographs by Marion Post Wolcott mary murphy Romance has many meanings. In late summer 1941, when Farm Security Administration (FSA) photographer Marion Post Wolcott visited a dude ranch in southeastern Montana, she made a series of photos that symbolize Americans' love affair with the West and captured the many connotations of romance. More than any other New Deal photographer, Wolcott depicted women outside of the FSA's typical representations of weathered farm wives and careworn mothers. By 1941 the worst days of the Great Depression were over, and Wolcott had been charged with photographing the recovery of the western cattle industry. The Quarter Circle U ranch in Birney, Montana, like many others in the region, had begun entertaining dudes in the 1920s to augment ranch income, and so she photographed that side of the modern ranch business as well as cattle raising. The ranch scattered its grounds with covered wagon love seats designed for trysting young couples, many of whom purchased western wear as part of their Montana adventure. In 1936 Vogue magazine had run an article advising its readers on how to dress for a dude ranch vacation, suggesting that travelers purchase Levis, "the copper-riveted
Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies – University of Nebraska Press
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