The photograph of a one-roomed school is from Widtsoe, Utah. Seen from behind the juniper tree, it’s easy to imagine a group of kids playing at recess. The school would’ve been bustling with activity from 1880 right through first two decades of the twentieth century.
Around 1920, the Mormon ranching settlement began to decline, feeling the effects of a protracted drought. In 1920, there were 1100 people living there. Fifteen years later, only seventeen families remained.
After I returned from Utah, I was surprised to read that Dorothea Lange had visited Widtsoe during the struggling years of the 1930’s and made several dozen photographs there. Lange is most renowned for photographs made during the depression with the FSA, and her portrait of the “migrant mother” is her most celebrated image.
Her less well-known photographs of Widtsoe are housed at the Library of Congress and can be viewed by clicking on the link below and typing in “Widtsoe” in the search box:
The photograph at the top can be enlarged with a click.