Picturing California's Migrant Children
   He posed many photographs, treating frontality as a method of obtaining frankness or full disclosure. This surmounts the proposition that his subjects are the "other" people somehow different from the viewer. The subjects exhibit a calm, matter of fact attentiveness to the photographer not ever mounting the passionate or sorrowfulness of the then current fad in federally sponsored documentary photography.
   Goldner produced an essay of his trip later (August 1940) commenting on what he saw and thought. It was part of a script he and Grace Kerns made for a film presentation to the California State Department of Education. He also created a log of his journey that, unfortunately, has never been uncovered. He also wrote a second essay in 1941 (a full year or more after the visits had ended) but wrote very little in his diaries about the project. He later corresponded with professional film colleagues about what he saw and felt. The documentary feature film he made at the time, is now missing from his professional papers. (Goldner gave his massive collection to The American Archive of the Factual Film, housed at Iowa State University in Ames before he passed away in the 1980’s). Goldner was head of the "Mass Communications Department" at Chico State College (now California State University, Chico) from 1967 to 1970.

The later writing, in some ways, present the musings of someone who had readjusted his thinking. The essays written later about the migrant children problem and schooling present a different look and feel from his original optimism. The slow beginning of World War II and the "red and nazi scares" had colored his thinking. While being interviewed during his retirement years (early 1980’s) he expressed total disinterest in the project. He had moved on to create educational films first for the war effort and later for academia.
   Lacking specificity of place names makes identifying Goldner geographic places and spaces frustrating. We have only later interviews identifying Bakersfield as the southern border and Red Bluff as his northern border. In this exhibit we will try to present some of the images with ideas and thoughts Goldner wrote in his diaries or in the written essays and from other sources.»

Bibliography
John Steinbeck. Their Blood is Strong. San Francisco, CA,     Simon J. Lubin Society of California, Inc., December 1938.

Orville Goldner. Unpublished Essay (August, 1940).

Orville Goldner. Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand.
    Unpublished script by Grace Kern and Orville Goldner for     film made for the California State Education Department,     1939/1940.

Home | Next»

©2002, Special Collections, Meriam Library, CSU, Chico Credits