Reading facial expressions isn’t an exact science; we all highlight different parts of what we see. When I look at this woman, I see strength and determination. When I read her words, I see the same.
This photo by the world-renowned photographer Dorothea Lange was taken five months after Lange’s legendary shot “Migrant Mother,” the Great Depression-era photo of a mother with her children huddled close. Annie Moore Schwein was at this time an elder of the city, and both her words and her portrait tell us of her life.
Schwein recorded lengthy interviews between 1938 and 1941 recounting her own memories growing up in and raising a family in Corpus Christi. She also told memories shared by her mother, who also lived into her 90s and had memories of her own great-grandparents.
Schwein’s life spanned from the time of slavery through WWII. She lived in Corpus Christi where there were only a handful of structures and a few dozen families. Her interviews tell stories of the city’s earliest days when her mother saw the building of Capt. Forbes Britton’s home on the bluff (now called the Centennial House), and the stories of how some of Corpus Christi’s first settlers came here.
Published as When Corpus Christi Was Young: Recollections of Annie Moore Schwein, her words are an invaluable resource for historians. She worked for many years as a primary school teacher and later ran a laundry business. All the while, she kept and shared her stories of Corpus Christi history.