Margaret Bourke-White was the first female American war photojournalist. Actually, she was the first and only in quite a few areas of the field. She was the first female photographer hired by Life magazine. She was the first Westerner allowed to photograph the Soviet industry, the first female war correspondent permitted in World War II combat zones and was the only foreign photographer present in Moscow during the German invasion.
Bourke-White may have started her career in commercial and architectural photography, but by the 1930’s, she began capturing the manically insane tendencies lurking in this savage world through her lens. She chronicled American life during disastrous times, such as the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. She set sights on covering life in parts of Europe under Nazi and Communist control. She recorded World War II, India’s struggle for independence, the Korean War and everything in-between. She was rightfully nicknamed “Maggie the Indestructible” after surviving torpedoes, bombs, a helicopter crash and an Arctic stranding among other things.
Margaret Bourke-White working atop Chrysler Building, NY 1934
Joseph Stalin, 1943
German civilians are forced by American troops to bear witness to Nazi atrocities at Buchenwald concentration camp, mere miles from their own homes, April 1945
Gandhi, India, 1946
A member of the South Korean National Police holds the severed head of a North Korean communist guerrilla during the Korean War, 1952
This mini blog doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of Bourke-White’s extensive and impressive work. Her compelling photos are not only recorded and cemented in American and world history; they carved a path for aspiring female photojournalists. Hats, or bras, off to Margaret Bourke-White for her contribution to the field of photojournalism.