Oil and people: a photo display

A rather curious partnership between the oil business and a New Dealer from President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Farm Security Administration (FSA) resulted in a remarkable collection of photographs of American life.

The alliance began in 1943 when Exxon's predecessor, Standard Oil Company (New Jersey) set out to create a library of photographs with this mandate: ''. . . to tell the story of oil from the jog on the seismographer's chart to the car, home, or business of the user - and to tell it always with the accent of the man on the job. . . .''

The man recruited to direct the project was Roy Emerson Stryker, a former cowboy, settlement-house worker, and college economics instructor - and from 1935 to 1942, chief of the historical section of the FSA.

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Organized by the International Center of Photography (and funded by Exxon), an exhibition featuring the photography commissioned by Mr. Stryker will visit museums and historical societies across the US. Titled ''Roy Stryker: U.S.A., 1943-1950,'' it will tour through the end of 1985.

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