Russell Werner Lee was born on July 21, 1903 in Ottawa, Illinois. He attended LeHigh University and received a degree in Chemical Engineering in 1925. He became interested in photography and purchased a camera. He became a photographer for the United States Farm Security Administration (FSA) between 1936 and 1942, and is best known for his photographic documentation of the effect of the Great Depression. He eventually settled in Austin, Texas where he established the photography program in the art department of the University of Texas, teaching from 1965 until he retired in 1973. He died on August 28, 1986 at the age of eighty-three.

He came to Waco in 1939 to take photos to document how the Depression had affected life in a small town. Most, but not all, of these photos were taken on the Waco City Square.

These photos are a from the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information Photograph Collection.