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Russell W. Lee, circa 1942-1945. BOOKS & THE CULTURE Knocking on Heaven’s Door BY ALAN POGUE PHOTOGRAPHS BY RUSSELL LEE Along with Dorothea Lange and Walker the essence of America in the Depression while working as a photographer for the Farm Security Administration. Lee went on to take thousands of photographs for the U.S. Army’s Air Transport Command during World War II and documented the conditions of mineworkers for the U.S. Department of the Interior. After the war, he and his wife Jean settled in Austin. Russell Lee became the Observer’s first staff photographer. Last year, the one hundredth anniversary of his birth was celebrated with an exhibition at the Wittliff Gallery of Southwestern & Mexican Photography, Alkek Library at Texas State University. The following article is adapted from a talk that Observer photographer Alan Pogue delivered at TSU. “Go Out and Look: The Photography of Russell Lee” is currently on exhibit at the Harry Ransom Center Galleries at the University of Texas at Austin through October 17. t wasn’t until 1976 that I really got to know Russell Lee. I was videotaping an oral history of women in the Texas labor move ment, going all over the state talking to women about what they were doing in the ’30s. A lot of Hands of Mrs. Andrew Ostermeyer, wife of a homesteader, Miller Township, Woodbury County, Iowa, 1936. 18 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9/24/04