Cotton Tenants: Three Families by James Agee and Walker Evans

Novelist Adam Haslett and John Summers, editior-in-chief of The Baffler, talk about a re-discovered masterpiece of reporting by James Agee and celebrated photographer Walker Evans, Cotton Tenants: Three Families. In 1941, James Agee and Walker Evans published Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, about three tenant farming families in Hale County, Alabama, at the height of the Great Depression. They originally traveled there on assignment for Fortune magazine in 1936, but a story that was never published. Fifty years after Agee’s death, his report “Cotton Tenants” was discovered. Published for the first time, it includes 30 of Walker Evans’s historic photos.

Walker Evans. House, Hale County, 1936.
Walker Evans. House, Hale County, 1936. ( Walker Evans/Courtesy of the Library of Congress )
Walker Evans. Floyd Burroughs, Sharecropper, 1936.
Walker Evans. Floyd Burroughs, Sharecropper, 1936. ( Walker Evans/Courtesy of the Library of Congress )
Walker Evans. Allie Mae Burroughs, 1936.
Walker Evans. Allie Mae Burroughs, 1936. ( Walker Evans/Courtesy of the Library of Congress )
Walker Evans. Lucille Burroughs Picking, 1936.
Walker Evans. Lucille Burroughs Picking, 1936. ( Walker Evans/Courtesy of the Library of Congress )
Walker Evans. Buf Fields, 1936.
Walker Evans. Buf Fields, 1936. ( Walker Evans/Courtesy of the Library of Congress )
Walker Evans. Crossroads Store, 1936.
Walker Evans. Crossroads Store, 1936. ( Walker Evans/Courtesy of the Library of Congress )
Walker Evans. Negro Children, 1936.
Walker Evans. Negro Children, 1936. ( Walker Evans/Courtesy of the Library of Congress )
Walker Evans. 1936.
Walker Evans. 1936. ( Walker Evans/Courtesy of the Library of Congress )
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