Carol Highsmith
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Street People (Homeless and Otherwise) Along the Byways of America

I’ve met thousands of people who live and try to make meager ends meet on the streets of our cities and towns. Many graciously take the time to pose for me and recount their stories.  Some who leave a lasting impression tell me they’re sure where they’ll lay their heads that night.  Their words describe a hard life’s struggles, but their faces convey great dignity.

Above: Frank Smith, a disabled World War II veteran, spent much of his time on the streets of Fort Worth, Texas, with his ever-present little dog.  A couple of years ago, not long after I took this photograph, he was killed while riding his bike when a car swerved into him.  His legacy will live without end date in the Library of Congress photo archives alongside other memorable images of humble folk such as Dorothea Lange’s photographs of hardscrabble migrant workers during the depths of the Great Depression. (Carol M. Highsmith Library of Congress America Collection)

When I documented the state of California a few years ago, I made it a point to find the exact spot (or as close to it as I could find) in the dusty town of Nipomo where Lange took her classic Migrant Mother image in 1936.  There I met this nice man  who himself was a migrant worker. The setting — fields of crops still tended by migrant laborers  — had not changed much in the eight or so decades since Lange stopped there. (Carol M. Highsmith Library of Congress America Collection)

Hey mister, can you play me a tune? This New Orleans street musician puts his dog to work in his delightful act. While the banjo man strums and sings, his dog fetches tips from the bemused gathered crowd, carries the bills back to his master, and drops them in a bucket. (Carol M. Highsmith Library of Congress America Collection)