Born in New York City in 1915, Arthur Rothstein showed an early interest in photography. While studying at Columbia University, he met economics instructor Roy Stryker, who would later establish the photographic section of the Resettlement Administration (later the Farm Security Administration) in Washington, DC.
Appreciating Rothstein’s technical proficiency and enthusiasm for photography, Stryker hired him in 1935 as the first staff photographer for the FSA. Rothstein spent the next five years creating some of the most iconic images of rural and small-town America during the Great Depression (1935-1940).
After leaving the FSA in 1940, Rothstein took a position as photographer for Look magazine; he remained there until 1971, ultimately serving as the magazine’s director of photography.