What We Are About to Receive, Historical Voices from the United States Farm Security Administration Archival File, is a documentary work, presented in the artist’s book form. The work engages the process of enabling new narratives and historical knowledge from archival source material, and reflects a critical examination of the FSA-OWI archival file at the intersection of New Deal era American history (1933-1945). Postured in a revisionist voice, and delivered in the form of a socially conscious art production, the work challenges traditional conventions and frameworks which support the processes of historical narrative production. In further detail, the physical structure of the work serves as a subversive exhibition space for deconstructing the Roosevelt administration’s New Deal era economic policies- many of which surreptitiously fostered and cemented the rise of the American welfare state. Through the juxtaposition of original primary source documents and legislation, FSA-OWI archival file materials, and creative prose, the work illuminates the Roosevelt administration’s stealth modus operandi and the FSA-OWI file’s enigmatic position as official artifact of the New Deal era. As a composition, the work is an expression of the disciplined writing of narratives from archival material and the processes which shape the production of art. What We Are About to Receive is also an appeal to the reader in the present, to consider: the importance of reassessing historical narratives and archival materials, and the valuable role of creative platforms in the dissemination of historical knowledge. The work may be of interest to: the discerning public; students of American history, artists who work within a socially conscious practice; practitioners of documentary; curators; and archivists.
The following references indicate some of the more important works consulted by the author in the preparation of this work. These references are to serve as a guide for those who want to pursue, in greater depth, the various ideas and conclusions considered here.
The Constitution of the United States
The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Fireside Conversations
The FSA-OWI Photographic Collection, US Library of Congress
Vanderbilt, Paul. Guide to the Special Collections of Prints & Photographs in the Library of Congress. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1955.
Economics, Historiography, and Rhetoric
Benson, Thomas W. ed. American Rhetoric in the New Deal Era, 1932-1945. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2006.
Galbraith, John Kenneth. American Capitalism: The Concept of Countervailing Power. 2nd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1956.
Higgs, Robert. Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.
Ekirch, Arthur. The Decline of American Liberalism. New York: Atheneum, 1969.
Leuchtenburg, William E. Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, 1932-1940. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1963.
Leuchtenburg, William E. ed. The New Deal: A Documentary History. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1968.