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||At the time Lyle Saunders and George Sanchez were
planning the Study, Russell Lee was both widely considered to be one
of the most accomplished documentary photographers of his time and was
living in Austin. Thus he was an ideal choice to provide photographic
support for the project. Saunders and Sanchez were interested in data
samples collected over long periods of time. Saunders noted that there
was much to be gained by having Lee re-survey the Spanish-speaking communities
in Corpus Christi, San Antonio, and South Texas that Lee had documented
in 1939 as part of the Farm Security Administration efforts. During the
course of his correspondence with Sanchez about the project, Saunders
wrote, "We will thus have...a documentary record of the improvement,
or lack of improvement, in the conditions of the Spanish-speaking during
the past ten years."1.
|A corner of a room in a slum corral house.
||Sanchez and Saunders provided extensive documentation with
which to inform Lee of the intent of the study. This documentation included
a historical overview of the various Mexican American communities; a four-part
description of the study's aims, need, objectives and assumptions; and
a detailed five-page single-spaced outline that was to guide Lee during
his field trips. The documentation left no doubt as to how the photographs
were intended to be used. However, for reasons that continue to perplex
researchers who are aware of their existence, these photographs were not
published in connection with the study.
1. Saunders to Sanchez, letter dated April
5, 1949, in the George I. Sanchez Papers, Mexican American Archives,
Benson Latin American Collection, The University of Texas at Austin.