Paul Taylor seems significantly less famous than his wife and partner, Lange. Although both fought fiercely for what they believed in, Lange’s passion pushed her past her husband into fame.
Taylor began his life in Sioux City, Iowa in 1895. He had a mysterious childhood– one that could not be pried into on the Internet with any sort of ease, but unless he had completely different beliefs than his parents, he was raised liberally.
He did undergrad at the University of Wisconsin, where he studied economics, and then later went to the University of California, Berkeley where he attained his PhD and later became a professor (of economics, of course).
But before his academic career, Taylor entered the military, acting as 2nd Lieutenant in the Marine Corps. His military career was successful: he was a natural leader and commanded the 4th platoon, 78th Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment in Quantico, Virginia before being deployed to France. There he was severely gassed, and so was forced to retire from action. Once he’d recuperated, began a life long teaching career: first teaching for the military in Gondrecourt, and then later at Berkeley.
After his military career, he took up the mantle of Edith Abbott, a progressive socialist who headed the Social Science Research Council project. She wished to find someone who would document the influx of Mexicans into the United States, and Taylor wished to find his life’s work– they fit each other’s needs to a T. Because of this project, Taylor spent most of his time on the road, researching Mexican and Mexican-American life and culture. At the time, he was one of the only whites that had the gumption to take a research-based peek into the culture of this movement. His work led him to learn Spanish as well as to uncover essential statistics on migration, which he could apply to economics.
In the 1930’s his focused switched to the effects of the Dust Bowl, and he and Lange traveled together, combining their separate talents with words and pictures to form a comprehensive sketch of life for migrant workers. His qualitative research formed the basis for the trial on the civil liberties of farm workers.
Later, he was one of the few whites of consequence that openly disapproved of the incarceration of Japanese Americans. His entire life was devoted to human rights, and unlike the majority of people who act as though they “care,” he actually made a difference.