|Home >> Exhibitions >>The Common Wealth: Treasures from the Collections of the Library of Virginia >> The Arts
W. Lincoln Highton (1906- ). "Farmer along Route 52, south of Hillsville, Carroll County." Work Projects Administration, Virginia Federal Writers' Project, American Guides Series.
As part of the depression era's broad Work Projects Administration, the Federal Writers' Project provided jobs to writers, teachers, editors, and other unemployed white-collar workers. Besides compiling numerous local inventories of historic sites, documenting the life experiences of a wide range of people, and writing local histories, the Federal Writers' Project employees also embarked on an American Guide Series, with book-length guides to major cities, selected regions, and particularly individual states. Under the supervision of Eudora Ramsay Richardson, the Virginia Writers' Project in May 1940 published Virginia: A Guide to the Old Dominion. So popular did the book become that it was reprinted in 1941, 1946, and yet again in 1947; the Library of Virginia reissued the volume in 1992.
The principal photographer for the Virginia guide was W. Lincoln Highton. During the late 1930s, as the chief still photographer for the U.S. Information Service, Highton contributed pictures to several Federal Writers' Project titles. At least thirty-five of the one hundred photographs in the Virginia guide are by Highton. He photographed a Carroll County farmer twice, once within a stark and tightly framed perspective and again within a wider composition that included the farmer's team of oxen; only the latter was included in the guide. Among the Library's other Highton photographs are several views of Virginia watermen and storekeepers, rural villages and pastimes, historic sites, and Shenandoah Valley farms.