Russell Werner Lee

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Russell Werner Lee, son of Burton and Adeline Lee, was born in Ottawa, Illinois, on July 21, 1903. At age five his parents divorced and at age ten he watched as his mother dies from being hit by an automobile. His life wasn’t easy growing up. He attended Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana for four years and disliked the ways of military treatment. Lee graduated from Lehigh University, Pennsylvania with a degree in chemical engineering. He married in 1927 to Doris Emrick, a talented painter. During this marriage, Lee was inspired to begin painting and so he enrolled for a course at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco from 1929-1931. Then he joined Arts Student League in New York from 1931-1935. Struggling with painting, he bought a camera as an aid for his work, but soon became interested with photography alone. The Great Depression provided him the opportunity to develop his unique documentary style. Lee started publishing his photos in magazines by 1935. He was soon recognized by Roy Stryker, director of a photographic project, and was asked to join a group taking photos for the United States Farm Security Administration (FSA) between 1937…show more content…
In 1939 he married Jean Smith, a journalist from Dallas, who often traveled with him and wrote captions for his photographs and short essays on social scenes that Lee captured. Lee didn’t have any children during any of his marriages. His years with the FSA were shortly followed by the war service in the Air Transport Command (ATC). Throughout WWII, he flew more than a million miles and photographed airfields used by the ATC in an effort to supply the United States and allied troops with needed equipment. The photographs were used in pilot briefings and were considered greatly important for the inexperienced pilots approaching unfamiliar airfields. For his service, Lee received the Air

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