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March 7, 2017

15 Amazing Vintage Photographs That Capture America’s Great Depression from the 1930s

The Farm Security Administration (FSA) was created in 1937 from an earlier agency named the Resettlement Administration, or RA. The RA had been created by a 1935 executive order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt to help struggling farmers and sharecroppers by providing loans, purchasing depleted farmland and resettling destitute families into government-designed communities.

Rexford G. Tugwell, a former Columbia University economics professor, was chosen by Roosevelt to lead the RA, and Tugwell appointed his former student and friend Roy K. Stryker to head the agency’s historical section. Stryker’s mission was to document the hardships and conditions around the country, particularly across the Midwestern states and into California. In all, Stryker’s team of photographers produced over 175,000 black and white negatives and 1,610 color transparencies, as well as several films.

These photos are just a small sampling of their work.

Soda jerk flipping ice cream into malted milk shakes. Corpus Christi, Texas, 1939. Photo by Russell Lee.

Frame Houses and a Billboard, Atlanta, Georgia. Photograph by Walker Evans, March 1936.

Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Lyman, Polish tobacco farmers near Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Photo by Jack Delano. Published September, 1940.

Saturday afternoon in London, Ohio, “the main street.” Ben Shahn, Published: Summer, 1938.

“Toward Los Angeles, California.” Photo by Dorthea Lange. Created / published: March, 1937.

Farmer and sons walking in the face of a dust storm. Cimarron County, Oklahoma, April, 1936. Photo by Arthur Rothstein. PRINT made in the 1930s.

Allie Mae Burroughs, wife of cotton sharecropper. Hale County, Alabama. Photo by Walker Evans. Date Created: 1935 – 1936 (approximate). ADD NY pub.

Home of sharecropper Floyd Burroughs, showing washstand in the dog run and view into the kitchen. Photo by Walker Evans. Created / Published: 1935 or 1936.

Floyd Burroughs, sharecropper. Photo by Walker Evans. Alabama, 1935 or 1936.

A man goes up the stairs to the “colored” entrance of a movie house on a Saturday afternoon in Belzoni, Mississippi. Photo by Marion Post Wolcott. Dated as possibly October, 1939.

Washington, D.C. Government cleaner. Photo by Gordon Parks. August, 1942.

Fur buyer from New Orleans waiting for FSA (Farm Security Administration) supervisor to open the bids at auction sale of muskrats in dancehall on Delacroix Island, Louisiana. Photo by Marion Post Wolcott. Probably creation / publication date: January, 1941.

A man drinks at a “Colored” water cooler in streetcar terminal, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Photo by Russell Lee, July, 1939.

Graveyard and steel mill, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Photo by Walker Evans. Created / published: November, 1935. (Possibly St. Michael’s Cemetery.)

Untitled photo, possibly related to: Inhabitants of Marked Tree, Arkansas. Created: October, 1935. Negative has a hole punch made by FSA staff to indicate that the negative should not be printed.

(via Washington Post)


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