Even though the name Florence Owens Thompson probably isn't familiar to you, you've likely seen her famous portrait by Dorothea Lange. Titled "Migrant Mother," this photograph is one of the iconic images of the Great Depression. Now, via Wikipedia, you can read about the life of the woman behind the photo. You can also learn more on the wonderful website created by her grandson Roger Sprague. As he states, the image came from a migrant camp where Florence and her family were living.
Then a shiny new car (it was only two years old) pulled into the entrance, stopped some twenty yards in front of Florence and a well-dressed woman got out with a large camera. She started taking Florence's picture. With each picture the woman would step closer. Florence thought to herself, "Pay her no mind. The woman thinks I'm quaint, and wants to take my picture." The woman took the last picture not four feet away then spoke to Florence: "Hello, I'm Dorthea Lange, I work for the Farm Security Administration documenting the plight of the migrant worker. The photos will never be published, I promise." Florence said, "Okay, if you think it will help." The woman turned, walked away, got in her car, and was gone. The next day the promise was broken: Florence's picture taken by the well-dressed lady was on the front page of all the newspapers. (Source: Migrant Mother website)
One of the recurring mysteries of life is to see an old photograph and wonder about the life of the person captured in that one brief moment of frozen light. Thanks to Wikipedia and the internet, Florence Owens Thompson's amazing life doesn't need to be a mystery to anyone.