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July 29, 2015

32 Vintage Photos Captured American People Traveling by Bus in the 1940s

As a child growing up in the 1930s, Esther Bubley earned extra money by photographing the neighborhood children and selling the pictures to their parents. As a high school student, she was impressed by the FSA photographs of the Great Depression and decided to become a photographer.


Her big break came in 1942 when, at the age of 21, Roy Stryker hired her to work in the darkroom at the Office of War Information (OWI), where he and his FSA photographers had recently been transferred.

In 1943, Bubley spent four weeks documenting bus travel, which had increased greatly with the wartime rationing of gasoline and tires. She rode Greyhound busses to Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Chicago, Columbus, Cincinnati, Louisville, Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga and back to Washington. During her trip, she photographed passengers, employees, and a garage in Pittsburgh.

A bus driver removing the baggage from a Greyhound bus that broke down between Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1943.

A Greyhound bus trip from Louisville, Kentucky, to Memphis, Tennessee, and the terminals. Idlers in front of the bus stop between Memphis and Chattanooga, 1943.

A Greyhound bus trip from Louisville, Kentucky, to Memphis, Tennessee, and the terminals. Local fares, going -down the road a piece- to visit, 1943.

A Greyhound bus trip from Louisville, Kentucky, to Memphis, Tennessee, and the terminals. Passengers waiting to get on the Greyhound bus at Rome, Georgia, 1943.

Passengers waiting for the bus at the Memphis terminal, 1943.

Roberta Locker, going to Chattanooga from Elora, Tennessee to work, 1943.

Sisters, returning from Detroit to their home in Tennessee, 1943.

This girl commutes daily to Memphis where she goes to school, 1943.

Waiting for a bus at Memphis station, 1943.

Waiting for the bus at Chattanooga Greyhound terminal, 1943.

A Greyhound bus which is bound for Chicago, Illinois from Cincinnati, Ohio at two am, 1943.

Bus trip from Knoxville, Tennessee to Washington, D.C. Girl baggage clerk loading newspapers onto a bus at Knoxville, Tennessee. These will be left at small towns along the way.

Soldier saying goodbye to his wife and child at small town in Tennessee.

Bus passengers at Knoxville, Tennessee.

Girl agent checking bag at Knoxville.

Passengers boarding bus at Knoxville.

Passengers in the waiting room at the Greyhound bus terminal at five am, Chicago.

Passengers leaving a Greyhound bus in a small town in Pennsylvania.

Passengers on a Greyhound bus going from Washington, DC to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Passengers on the Greyhound bus going from Washington, D.C. to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, some of which were standing all the way.

Passengers waiting for a Greyhound bus driver to start loading them on the bus at a small town in Pennsylvania.

Passengers, who have struck up a friendship on a Greyhound bus en route from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to St. Louis, Missouri, telling "moron" jokes.

People boarding a Greyhound bus at a small town between Chicago, Illinois and Cincinnati, Ohio.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A charwoman who cleans buses mopping the floor of a bus at the Greyhound garage

Passengers in the waiting room of the Greyhound bus terminal.

Passengers waiting for a bus to pull up to the loading platform at the Greyhound bus terminal.

People buying tickets at the Greyhound bus terminal.

Private D.N. Danielson, stationed in North Carolina, and Mrs. Danielson, from Minnesota, in the waiting room of the Greyhound bus terminal. They met in Chicago to save time for his furlough.

Soldier and sailor waiting at the Greyhound bus terminal, Washington, DC.

Waiting to board one of the special buses for servicemen leaving the Greyhound terminal on Sunday nights. Girls stand in line with soldiers and sailors.

Waiting in line to board a bus at the Greyhound terminal, Washington, DC.

Washington Court House, Ohio. Mothers with their babies waiting at the bus depot.

(Photos by Esther Bubley)




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