Smart Girl Stories
Margaret Bourke-White

Margaret Bourke-White – Photographer

Margaret Bourke-White was a woman who defied traditional gender roles, paving the way for future generations of female journalists and photographers. Her remarkable career spanned nearly four decades, during which she captured some of the most significant historical events of her time with her iconic photographs.

From the Nazi concentration camps she documented during World War II to the dust bowl of the American Midwest, Bourke-White’s work remains a testament to the power of visual storytelling. Her unwavering dedication to her craft and her fearless determination to seek out the truth are qualities that continue to inspire today, making her a true trailblazer in the world of photojournalism.

Margaret Bourke-White – The Early Years

Margaret Bourke-White was born in New York City on June 14th, 1904. She became interested in photography from an early age and studied architecture at Cornell University. After graduating in 1927, she moved to Cleveland, where she established herself as a successful commercial photographer by taking pictures for the Otis Steel Company. Her photographs of the steel mills earned her nationwide recognition, and she went on to become the first female war correspondent for Life magazine during World War II. During this time, she documented both the Eastern and Western fronts of the conflict, capturing stunning images that brought the realities of war home to readers around the world.

Bourke-White continued working as a photojournalist throughout much of her career and took some of the most iconic photographs of 20th-century history.

Famous Photographs

In 1937, Margaret became one of four photographers who captured images during the construction of Fort Peck Dam in Montana—an effort that later became known as “The Living New Deal Project.” She also photographed famous figures such as Mahatma Gandhi (whom she famously snapped while spinning cotton) and Eleanor Roosevelt while documenting historical events like India’s independence movement and apartheid in South Africa. Her work was notable for its artistry and refusal to shy away from difficult topics such as poverty or social injustice.

Her Legacy

Margaret Bourke-White’s legacy lives on today through her pioneering work in photojournalism and documentary photography. Her passion for life and dedication to documenting history made her an icon whose influence can still be seen today.

Whether you are interested in learning more about history or just want to be inspired by someone who followed their dreams no matter what obstacles they faced, Margaret Bourke-White is sure to be an inspiration!

We are proud to highlight this story as part of our partnership with The National Women’s Hall of Fame.

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