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Puerto Rico's Plantation Economy: Snapshots from the Library of Congress

Jack and Irene Delano

John Collier, Jr., photographer. Washington, D.C. Portrait of Jack Delano, Office of War Information photographer. 1942. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Jack Delano (born in the Ukraine) recounts that Edwin Rosskam was the one who encouraged him to work with the Farm Security Administration Photography project in Puerto Rico. Jack and his wife, Irene (born in Detroit, MI) traveled all over the island like the Rosskams documenting rural life through music, religion, family, work and politics. In short, they addressed everything that made up everyday life in coffee, tobacco, and sugar cane economies. The Library’s collection attests to the broad focus of this photographic work.

After working in Puerto Rico, the Delanos decided to call the island their home in 1946. The couple worked on different projects related to education in various audio visual mediums. In addition to photographic projects, they contributed to work for television, graphic arts, and cultural festivals. Jack created musical compositions highlighting Puerto Rican folk references. Irene produced several screen-prints, drawings, and posters. The Delanos worked hand in hand on all of these projects; and they left an indelible mark on the island. The Library holds much of their work among its treasures.

The following links and photographs will guide you in discovering more resources and collections available at the Library about Jack and Irene Delano.

The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are included when available.

Selected Photographs by Jack Delano

Jack Delano, photographer. Farmers by their house, Puerto Rico. 1939. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
Jack Delano, photographer. Sugar cane workers resting, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. 1941. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
Jack Delano, photographer. Bayamon, Puerto Rico. People on the street. 1941. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
Jack Delano, photographer. Tobacco farm laborer, Barranquitas, Puerto Rico. 1941. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.