A tough, feisty photographer who began freelancing for the Associated Press in 1935, Wolcott has only recently received the attention she deserves. Most of her fairly short career was spent working under Roy Stryker at the Farm Security Administration, following the Stryker formula for “documenting” working-class life across the country during the late 1930s and early 1940s. Her New England pictures are eloquent examples of that formula, merging old and new New Englands into an (almost) comfortable relationship with each other. Her own inclination, after studies at the New School for Social Research in New York and the University of Vienna (she heard Hitler speak in Berlin), was to be more of a social activist, an inclination that occasionally surfaces in her “off duty” pictures. In 1941, with husband Lee Wolcott, she moved to a farm in Virginia. For the next three decades she raised a family, taught school, and traveled with her husband, who joined the Foreign Service after a farming accident. In 1975, she returned to photography, this time specializing in color. She and her husband settled in San Francisco in 1978.
William H. Truettner and Roger B. Stein, editors, with contributions by Dona Brown, Thomas Andrew Denenberg, Judith K. Maxwell, Stephen Nissenbaum, Bruce Robertson, Roger B. Stein, and William H. Truettner Picturing Old New England: Image and Memory (Washington, D.C.; New Haven, Conn; and London: National Museum of American Art with Yale University Press, 1999)