Margaret Bourke-White is a woman of many "firsts." She was a forerunner in the newly emerging field of photojournalism, and was the first female to be hired as such. She was the first photographer for Fortune magazine, in 1929. In 1930, she was the first Western photographer allowed into the Soviet Union.
She was born on June 14, 1904 in The Bronx, NY. She attended several universities throughout the United States while pursuing a degree in Herpetology (the study of reptiles) and she received her degree in 1927 from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.
Margaret began to study photography as a hobby while a very young woman. She developed the styles and techniques that she needed for various formats on her own. Her father was also somewhat of a camera enthusiast and he exposed her to photography as a young child.
Her father, Joseph White, was of Polish-Jewish background. He was an inventor and an engineer. He believed in equality in education and opportunity for all his children. Margaret's mother, Minnie Bourke, was of Irish-English ancestry and was a loving and nurturing mother. Minnie was completing her college degree at the time of her death. Margaret was married twice; once to Everett Chapman, when she was but 18 years old; and to Erskine Caldwell, the writer, in 1939, after they had worked together. They divorced in 1942.
Henry Luce hired her as the first female photojournalist for Life magazine, soon after its creation in 1935, and one of her photographs adorned its first cover. She was the first female war correspondent and the first to be allowed to work in combat zones during World War II, and one of the first photographers to enter and document the death camps. She made history with the publication of her haunting photos of the Depression in the book You Have Seen Their Faces, a collaboration with husband-to-be Erskine Caldwell. She wrote six books about her international travels. She was the premiere female industrial photographer, getting her start in Cleveland, Ohio, at the Otis Steel Company about 1927.
At the time of her death on August 27, 1971 she lived in Connecticut. Here's another GUTSY WOMAN!
Copyright M. A. Webb, 2005. All Rights Reserved.
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