Nell Dorr

Creator Details

  • Birth

    Aug. 27, 1893 (Cleveland, Ohio)

  • Death

    Nov. 15, 1988 (Litchfield, Connecticut)

Dorr learned photography as a child and kept it as a hobby while a young mother in Florida. Financial losses led her family to rely on her for income; after her divorce, Dorr moved to New York to pursue her career and met her second husband. While he and her sons-in-law served in World War II, Dorr and her daughters and grandchildren relocated to rural New Hampshire, living a deliberately rustic life without electricity or running water.

In the countryside Dorr photographed the women and children, creating beautiful and nostalgic images that avoid the fraught politics and events of the time. When one of her daughters died, Dorr published these images in an elegiac book called Mother and Child (1954), which would become her best-known work. Two years after Dorr died, the artist’s estate gifted her archive to the Carter, including thousands of photographs and negatives as well as the Nell Dorr Papers.

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