Photojournalist. Born in the Bronx, New York to Joseph White, an inventor and engineer, and Minnie Bourke, she was raised Bound Brook, New Jersey. Joseph White was an amateur photographer and Margaret helped her father develop prints in the bathtub. In 1921she attended college at Rutgers, the University of Michigan, and finally Cornell University, from which she was graduated in 1927. She founded the Bourke-White photography studio and specialized in architectural photography. In 1929, she accepted a job with ‘Fortune' magazine as an associate editor. The following year she managed to obtain a visa to travel in the USSR where an official who liked her work granted her a permit requiring all Soviet citizens to aid and assist her. She completed a five week photo essay of the nascent Soviet state. In 1931, she was invited back to the USSR by the government which resulted in half a dozen articles for ‘The New York Times Sunday Magazine.' In 1936, she and Erskine Caldwell collaborated for the book ‘You Have Seen Their Faces' which was a photo documentary of the poor of the American south. She returned to the Soviet Union in 1941 for ‘Life' and was the only foreign correspondent there when Moscow saw its first air raid. She spent the next four years covering the European war, and entered Buchenwald death camp with the liberators at its end. After the war, she covered India, where among others, she often photographed Gandhi. From 1949 to 1953, she photographed life in South Africa under apartheid, and covered the Korean War. She became a target for the House Un-American Activities Committee. Her statement affirming her belief in democracy allowed her to avoid censure by the committee. In 1956, Bourke-White was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. After treatment, she went to work writing and published an autobiography, ‘Portrait of Myself' in 1963, gradually withdrawing from professional photography. A 1971 fall injured her badly and she was confined to bed. She succumbed to complications from her injury and illness at the age of sixty-seven. Bourke-White was a pioneer in the field of photojournalism; she is considered one of the most important photographers of the twentieth century.
Bio by: Iola
1903–1987 (m. 1939)