Margaret Bourke White
- Category : Art-Photography
- Type : ME
- Profile : 1/3 - Investigating / Martyr
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Eden 2
American photographer, photojournalist and war correspondent with a dramatic life. The second child of a successful New York engineer and designer and his socially progressive wife, she was instilled with intellectual honesty and physical courage by both parents.
While still in school, she made a short, unhappy first marriage to E. Chapman in 1925 that lasted two years, She began as a biology student, but when her dad died, she was forced to sell her pictures on campus to pay for her remaining years at Cornell, from which she graduated in 1927. Her totally original and technically dazzling photographs of industrial America earned Bourke-White a place on the staff of the newly launched Fortune magazine in 1929 as an industrial photographer and assistant editor, beginning a connection with Henry Luce's publication that she retained for the rest of her working life. In 1935, she began working on the staff of Life magazine and provided the photos for its first cover story.
The same year she began a collaboration with the southern writer Erskine Caldwell, which produced the landmark expose of the sufferings of southern sharecroppers, "You Have Seen Their Faces," 1937. Their collaboration became personal with a passionate and stormy affair that culminated in a brief marriage in 1939.
Following her decision to divorce Caldwell, shortly after the U.S. entry into WW II, Bourke-White was accredited as an official Army Air Force photographer under an arrangement whereby her work could be used jointly by Life and the Air Force. This was the origin of her legendary career as a war correspondent, always in the thick of the fighting, fearless in her efforts to record great events. A stunned witness as the survivors of Nazi concentration camps were freed, she took a series of photos, "The Living Dead of Buchenwald." In her 42-year career, these photos represent the peak of her artistic achievement and are classic in the photographer's capacity to render tragedy and infamy in a single series of frames.
Postwar, she took assignments in India and Korea, participating and capturing historic events on film. Bourke-White was the author of 11 books as a photojournalist. By the time she published "Portrait of Myself" in 1963, she was a skilled writer.
Stricken with Parkinson's in 1954, she was unable to work by 1957. A new and innovative surgical technique was attempted in January 1959 as she struggled valiantly to keep functional.
Bourke-White died on 8/27/1971, Stamford, CT.