Early Life

John Collier, Jr. was born in 1913, the youngest son of Lucy Wood Collier and John Collier, Sr. His father was a social activist who later served as the Commissioner of Indian Affairs from 1933 to 1945 and, because of this work, the family maintained ties to the area around Taos, New Mexico. In the 1930s, John Collier, Jr. established a home in this area. In 1943, he married Mary Elizabeth Trumbull, who became a photographer herself and an important partner in his field projects.


In 1941 to 1943, Collier worked as a photographer with the Farm Securities Administration and the Office of War Information under Roy Stryker and documented many areas around the eastern U.S and northern New Mexico.

Other documentary projects in the New Mexico region included the community of Cebolla in 1950, Truchas in 1952, Peñasco and Picuris in the late 1950s, and many photographs taken on the Navajo Reservation from 1938-1972.