A Visually Absorbing History of the Great Depression in the U.S – Photographs We Won’t Forget

Way back since photography was discovered, masters of the art have done an inspiring job of documenting some of the most important events that took place in our history.

Without this documentation, we wouldn't have visual evidence of what happened during these times, apart from the ideas in sketches created by some artists of that age.

Not only this, photography has served another important purpose – helping the needy at times of desperation and depression by getting their lives documented and presented to the world (and governments) so that they could get the help and support they required, to get back on their feet.

Today, we take this for granted that the media are essentially in every corner of the earth ready to pick up a story/event, enabling news to travel very quickly (especially since social media – Twitter in particular).

A History of the Great Depression During the Early Forties

This historic event happened between 1939 and 1944, and was documented through photographs during the Great Depression in the United States to Combat American rural poverty; an event that stands as a great example to modern photojournalism.

During the depression in the Unites States, the Farm Security Administration (FSA) initially founded as the Resettlement Administration (RA) was formed to help improve the conditions and resources available to farmers by creating a suitable environment for them in terms of agriculture.

The FSA insisted on rural rehabilitation to improve the lifestyle of poor farmers, tenants and others by purchasing the submarginal land owned by them and helping them resettle in farms or land that were more suitable for efficient farming.

Boys playing cards near Union Station

Title: [Untitled photo, possibly related to: Boys playing cards near Union Station, Washington, D.C.]; Creator(s): Mydans, Carl, photographer; Related Names: United States. Resettlement Administration. Date Created/Published: [1935 Sept.]; Medium: 1 negative ; 35 mm. Reproduction Number: LC-USF33-T01-000140-M5 (b&w film dup. neg.) LC-DIG-fsa-8a00245 (digital file from original neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Cotton picker near Firebaugh

Title: Cotton picker near Firebaugh, California; Creator(s): Lange, Dorothea, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1939 Feb. Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USF34-018882-E (b&w film nitrate neg.) LC-DIG-fsa-8b32947 (digital file from original neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Cleanliness. Southern California

Title: “Cleanliness.” Southern California. Oklahoma refugees camping in Imperial Valley, California; Creator(s): Lange, Dorothea, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1935 Apr. Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USF34-001735-ZE (b&w film nitrate neg.) LC-DIG-fsa-8b27045 (digital file from original neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

A street in Brawley, Imperial Valley

Title: A street in Brawley, Imperial Valley. Homes of Mexican field laborers. California; Creator(s): Lange, Dorothea, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1935 June. Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 4 x 5 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USF34-T01-002325-C (b&w film dup. neg.) LC-DIG-fsa-8b27233 (digital file from original neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Cotton picker. Southern San Joaquin Valley

Title: Cotton picker. Southern San Joaquin Valley, California; Creator(s): Lange, Dorothea, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1936 Nov. Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USF34-009942-E (b&w film nitrate neg.) LC-DIG-fsa-8b29898 (digital file from original neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Cultivating beans with a four-row cultivator

Title: Cultivating beans with a four-row cultivator. Near Santa Ana, California; Creator(s): Lange, Dorothea, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1937 May. Medium: 1 negative : safety ; 4 x 5 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USF34-016566-C (b&w film neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Daytona Beach, Florida. Bethune-Cookman College

Title: Daytona Beach, Florida. Bethune-Cookman College. Girl welder in the NYA (National Youth Administration) school; Creator(s): Parks, Gordon, 1912-2006, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1943 Jan. Medium: 1 negative : safety ; 4 x 5 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USW3-014865-C (b&w film neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Church, Southeastern U.S

Title: [Church, Southeastern U.S.]; Date Created/Published: [1936]; Medium: 1 negative : safety ; 8 x 10 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USF342-T01-008258-A (b&w film dup. neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on images made by the U.S. government; images copied from other sources may be restricted.

Chicago, Illinois. Chicago and Northwestern Railroad workmen

Title: Chicago, Illinois. Chicago and Northwestern Railroad workmen having lunch in their shanty at the repair tracks; Creator(s): Delano, Jack, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 Dec. Medium: 1 negative : safety ; 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USW3-012549-D (b&w film neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Chicago, Illinois. Switchman waiting for the train

Title: Chicago, Illinois. Switchman waiting for the train he is to work to come down the tracks at a yard of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad; Creator(s): Delano, Jack, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 Dec. Medium: 1 negative : safety ; 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USW3-012558-D (b&w film neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions

Chicago, Illinois. In the roundhouse at a Chicago

Title: Chicago, Illinois. In the roundhouse at a Chicago and Northwestern Railroad yard; Creator(s): Delano, Jack, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 Dec. Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsa-8d23720 (digital file from original neg.) LC-USW3-012425-E (b&w film nitrate neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Chicago, Illinois. Riding a car in one of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad

Title: Chicago, Illinois. Riding a car in one of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad yards; Creator(s): Delano, Jack, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 Dec. Medium: 1 negative : safety ; 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USW3-012853-D (b&w film neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Amarillo, Texas. Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe switchman

Title: Amarillo, Texas. Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe switchman riding cars in the yards; Creator(s): Delano, Jack, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1943 Mar. Medium: 1 negative : safety ; 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USW3-020169-D (b&w film neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

The FSA’s mission was to improve farming techniques for the farmers, helping them to get settled and to prevent this crisis from happening again.

This was actually critiqued and opposed by the Farm Bureau that later on with the change in government, transformed the FSA into a program called Farmers Home Administration, to help poor farmers buy land and this still continues through the 21st century.

Besides these, the RA and FSA were responsible for creating images of the depression in the United States with many of the images appearing in popular magazines.

Hence they became well known for their famous photography program that was introduced to show the challenges of rural poverty.

This program ran between 1935 to 1944 and many photographers and writers were hired to report and document the dangerous and difficult situations of the poor farmers.

Healthy children in clean backyard, Washington

Title: Healthy children in clean backyard, Washington, D.C. Creator(s): Mydans, Carl, photographer; Related Names: United States. Resettlement Administration. Date Created/Published: 1935 Sept. Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 35 mm. Reproduction Number: LC-USF33-T01-000129-M3 (b&w film dup. neg.) LC-DIG-fsa-8a00196 (digital file from original neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Hospital and first aid station

Title: [Untitled photo, possibly related to: Hospital and first aid station. Berwyn, Maryland]; Creator(s): Mydans, Carl, photographer; Related Names: United States. Resettlement Administration. Date Created/Published: [1936 Jan.]; Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 35 mm. Reproduction Number: LC-USF33-T01-000361-M3 (b&w film dup. neg.) LC-DIG-fsa-8a00903 (digital file from original neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Mexican mother in California

Title: Mexican mother in California. “Sometimes I tell my children that I would like to go to Mexico, but they tell me ‘We don't want to go, we belong here.'” (Note on Mexican labor situation in repatriation.); Creator(s): Lange, Dorothea, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1935 June. Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 4 x 5 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsa-8b26837 (digital file from original neg.) LC-USF34-000825-ZC (b&w film nitrate neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Latter Day Saints portrait group

Title: Latter Day Saints portrait group. These people, man and wife, are both eighty-five years old. Converts to Mormonism from South Africa. She was the first schoolteacher in Escalante. They are dressed in their Sunday clothes; Creator(s): Lange, Dorothea, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1936 Apr. Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 4 x 5 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USF34-001343-C (b&w film nitrate neg.) LC-DIG-fsa-8b26957 (digital file from original neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Japanese relocation, California

Title: Japanese relocation, California. Baggage belonging to evacuees of Japanese ancestry at an assembly center in Salinas, California, prior to a War Relocation ; Authority center Creator(s): Lange, Dorothea, photographer; Related Names: United States. Office of War Information. Date Created/Published: 1942 Apr.-July. Medium: 1 negative : safety ; 5 x 7 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USE618-D-005068 (b&w film neg.) LC-USZ62-127917 (b&w film copy neg. from print in lot); Call Number: LC-USE618- D-005068 [P&P]; Repository: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division Washington, DC 20540 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print

Migrant pea pickers on the road

Title: Migrant pea pickers on the road. California; Creator(s): Lange, Dorothea, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1936 Feb. Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USF34-002472-E (b&w film nitrate neg.) LC-DIG-fsa-8b38216 (digital file from original neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Mexican townfolk sacking peppers near Stockton

Title: Mexican townsfolk sacking peppers near Stockton, California; Creator(s): Lange, Dorothea, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1936 Nov. Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 4 x 5 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USF34-016009-C (b&w film nitrate neg.) LC-DIG-fsa-8b31630 (digital file from original neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Daytona Beach, Florida. Bethune-Cookman College1

Title: Daytona Beach, Florida. Bethune-Cookman College. Students chopping and piling wood for thirty-five cents an hour; Creator(s): Parks, Gordon, 1912-2006, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1943 Feb. Medium: 1 negative : safety ; 4 x 5 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USW3-016912-C (b&w film neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Flood refugees at mealtime

Title: [Untitled photo, possibly related to: Flood refugees at mealtime, Forrest City, Arkansas]; Creator(s): Evans, Walker, 1903-1975, photographer; Related Names: United States. Resettlement Administration. Date Created/Published: [1937 Feb.] Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 35 mm. Reproduction Number: LC-USF3301-009231-M3 (b&w film dup. neg.) LC-DIG-fsa-8a28729 (digital file from original neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Elizabeth and Ida Tengle, Hale County

Title: Elizabeth and Ida Tengle, Hale County, Alabama; Creator(s): Evans, Walker, 1903-1975, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1936 Summer. Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 35 mm. Reproduction Number: LC-USF3301-031311-M3 (b&w film dup. neg.) LC-DIG-fsa-8a44545 (digital file from original neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Lily Rogers Fields and children

Title: [Untitled photo, possibly related to: Lily Rogers Fields and children. Hale County, Alabama]; Creator(s): Evans, Walker, 1903-1975, photographer; Date Created/Published: [1936 Summer] Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 35 mm. Reproduction Number: LC-USF33-031328-M1 (b&w film nitrate neg.) LC-DIG-fsa-8a44633 (digital file from original neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Decatur, Alabama. Ingalls Shipbuilding Company

Title: Decatur, Alabama. Ingalls Shipbuilding Company. A chipper at work in the wheelhouse of a barge; Creator(s): Delano, Jack, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 July. Medium: 1 negative : safety ; 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USW3-005314-D (b&w film neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Sergeant George Camblair

Title: Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Sergeant George Camblair used to work as a lens grinder in an optical firm. His employer said he had the makings of a good lens grinder; Creator(s): Delano, Jack, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 Sept. Medium: 1 negative : safety ; 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USW3-007939-D (b&w film neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

In order to provide the government with information about the farmers’ life, the FSA hired photographers who photographed the people in their natural living conditions, thereby providing evidence to the government that they needed help.

Roy Emerson Stryker a hobby photographer, who was in the information division, set out to document the struggles that America faced and the efforts it took to provide relief.

While working for the FSA for seven years, Stryker chose eleven photographers for this project, to document the struggle and they were all professionals in their own fields.

The photographers under the direction of Stryker, were given instructions, where they were assigned general themes and certain geographical areas to document the life of people.

As the project continued, the photographers were later given the freedom to document what they saw would fit into the actual project. He wanted them to bring photographs that would convince the government to spend money to help the suffering people.

All the photographers played a very important role in producing the images and they also took part in group conversations that helped include the images in the final project.

These images are now regarded as the “National Treasure” of the United States and this project is regarded as a work of art. They are some of the best examples of documentary photography.

Poor children playing on sidewalk, Georgetown, Washington, D.C

Title: Poor children playing on sidewalk, Georgetown, Washington, D.C. Creator(s): Mydans, Carl, photographer; Related Names: United States. Resettlement Administration. Date Created/Published: 1935 Sept. Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 35 mm. Reproduction Number: LC-USF33-T01-000116-M1 (b&w film dup. neg.) LC-DIG-fsa-8a00136 (digital file from original neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Motherless migrant children

Title: Motherless migrant children. They work in the cotton; Creator(s): Lange, Dorothea, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1935 June. Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 4 x 5 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsa-8b27002 (digital file from original neg.) LC-USF34-001621-C (b&w film nitrate neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Oklahoma refugees. California

Title: Oklahoma refugees. California; Creator(s): Lange, Dorothea, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1936 Feb. Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 4 x 5 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USF34-T01-001820-C (b&w film dup. neg.) LC-USZ62-131425 (b&w film copy neg. from print) LC-DIG-fsa-8b27085 (digital file from original neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

New York, New York. Barrels of fish caught off the New England

Title: New York, New York. Barrels of fish caught off the New England coast waiting to be shipped to retailers and wholesalers; Creator(s): Parks, Gordon, 1912-2006, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1943 May-June. Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsa-8d28576 (digital file from original neg.) LC-USW3-024055-E (b&w film nitrate neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

New York, New York. A New England fisherman preparing his boat to leave the New York docks

Title: New York, New York. A New England fisherman preparing his boat to leave the New York docks; Creator(s): Parks, Gordon, 1912-2006, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1943 May-June. Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsa-8d28580 (digital file from original neg.) LC-USW3-024059-E (b&w film nitrate neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Posters covering a building near Lynchburg to advertise a Downie Bros

Title: [Posters covering a building near Lynchburg to advertise a Downie Bros. circus]; Creator(s): Evans, Walker, 1903-1975, photographer; Date Created/Published: [1936] Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 35 mm. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsa-8a20306 (digital file from original neg.) LC-USF33-009207-M3 (b&w film nitrate neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

New York, New York. 61st Street between 1st and 3rd Avenues

Title: New York, New York. 61st Street between 1st and 3rd Avenues. Tenants Other Title: Tenants on East Sixty-first Street, probably between First and Second Avenues; Creator(s): Evans, Walker, 1903-1975, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1938 Summer. Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 35 mm. Reproduction Number: LC-USF3301-006718-M4 (b&w film dup. neg.) LC-DIG-fsa-8a19115 (digital file from original neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Negroes in the lineup for food at meal time

Title: [Untitled photo, possibly related to: Negroes in the lineup for food at meal time in the camp for flood refugees, Forrest City, Arkansas]; Creator(s): Evans, Walker, 1903-1975, photographer; Related Names: United States. Resettlement Administration. Date Created/Published: [1937 Feb.] Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 35 mm. Reproduction Number: LC-USF3301-009211-M3 (b&w film dup. neg.) LC-DIG-fsa-8a20316 (digital file from original neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Negroes in the lineup for food at mealtime1

Title: [Untitled photo, possibly related to: Negroes in the lineup for food at mealtime in the camp for flood refugees, Forrest City, Arkansas]; Creator(s): Evans, Walker, 1903-1975, photographer; Related Names: United States. Resettlement Administration. Date Created/Published: [1937 Feb.] Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 35 mm. Reproduction Number: LC-USF33-009215-M3 (b&w film nitrate neg.) LC-DIG-fsa-8a20335 (digital file from original neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Refugees lined up at meal time in the camp

Title: [Untitled photo, possibly related to: Refugees lined up at meal time in the camp for white flood refugees in Forest City, Arkansas]; Creator(s): Evans, Walker, 1903-1975, photographer; Related Names: United States. Resettlement Administration. Date Created/Published: [1937 Feb.] Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 35 mm. Reproduction Number: LC-USF3301-009220-M3 (b&w film dup. neg.) LC-DIG-fsa-8a20350 (digital file from original neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Nashville, Tennessee. Lunch time in one of the parts divisions

Title: Nashville, Tennessee. Lunch time in one of the parts divisions. Vultee Aircraft Corporation plant; Creator(s): Delano, Jack, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 Aug. Medium: 1 negative : safety ; 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USW3-006232-D (b&w film neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Nashville, Tennessee. Vengeance bomber on the field

Title: Nashville, Tennessee. “Vengeance” bomber on the field; Creator(s): Delano, Jack, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 Aug.? Medium: 1 negative : safety ; 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USW3-006142-D (b&w film neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions

Nashville, Tennessee. Vengeance bomber on the field1

Title: Nashville, Tennessee. “Vengeance” bomber on the field; Creator(s): Delano, Jack, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 Aug.? Medium: 1 negative : safety ; 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USW3-006162-D (b&w film neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

The RA and FSA together made around 250,000 images of rural poverty. Very few images from that collection survived and they are held in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress. The most famous among these photographers were, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Jack Delano and Gordon Parks

Walker Evans: Walker’s works focussed mainly on families and how they were affected by the Great Depression. What you see here is one among the many that he documented

Roadside stand near Birmingham, Alabama

Title: Roadside stand near Birmingham, Alabama; Creator(s): Evans, Walker, 1903-1975, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1936. Medium: 1 negative ; 8 x 10 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsa-8c52874 (digital file from dup. neg.) LC-DIG-ppmsc-00239 (digital file from print) LC-USF342-T01-008253 (b&w film dup. neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on images made by the U.S. government; images copied from other sources may be restricted.

Dorothea Lange: One of the best works by Dorothea Lange was the image known as “Migrant Mother.” This image was made when she came across a mother and her children in 1936, in a migrant farmer’s farm, while traveling through Nipomo, California.

Destitute pea pickers in California. Mother of seven children. Age thirty-two. Nipomo, California

Title: Destitute pea pickers in California. Mother of seven children. Age thirty-two. Nipomo, California; Other Title: Migrant mother. Creator(s): Lange, Dorothea, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1936 Feb. or Mar. Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 4 x 5 in. Summary: Photograph shows Florence Thompson with three of her children in a photograph known as “Migrant Mother.”; Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Gordon Parks: He is one of the best photographers from the FSA team and one of his best images was the “American Gothic.” This is the image of a government worker holding her broom with the American flag and a mop in the background.

Washington, D.C. Government charwoman

Title: Washington, D.C. Government charwoman; Other Title: Ella Watson; Creator(s): Parks, Gordon, 1912-2006, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 Aug. Medium: 1 negative : safety ; 4 x 5 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsa-8b14845 (digital file from original neg.) LC-DIG-ppmsc-00237 (digital file from print) LC-USF34-T01-013407-C (b&w film dup. neg.) LC-USZ62-80024 (b&w film copy neg. from print); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Jack Delano: One of Jack’s most iconic images is the picture that shows female workers at an industrial railroad facility, who had replaced men sent to the war. Most of Jack’s works focussed on rail yards and industries because World War II was in full swing when Jack joined the FSA.

Women workers employed as wipers in the roundhouse having lunch in their rest room

Title: Women workers employed as wipers in the roundhouse having lunch in their rest room, C. & N.W. R.R., Clinton, Iowa; Creator(s): Delano, Jack, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1943 April; Medium: 1 transparency : color. Summary: Photograph shows Marcella Hart at left, Mrs. Elibia Siematter at right. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a34808 (digital file from original transparency) LC-USW361-644 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

During World War II, FSA was assigned to work under Wartime Civil Control Administration (WCCA) that was responsible for relocating Japanese Americans from their homes to Internment camps. FSA took part in the agricultural part of the evacuation. The information relating to these were released to the public by the Information division.

After the war started, there were millions of vacancies in factory jobs in cities and there was no need for the FSA. By 1943, FSA activities were greatly reduced and the FSA’s photographic unit was moved to the Office of War Information (OWI) for almost a year, after which, the unit was dissolved.

The photographs then came under the name “FSA – OWI Collection.” During 1942 and 1943, the OWI had two photographic units and the photographers documented information relating to aircraft factories and women at work.

Slum children at play, Washington

Title: [Untitled photo, possibly related to: Slum children at play, Washington, D.C. Children in their backyard near the Capitol. This area inhabited by both black and white]; Creator(s): Mydans, Carl, photographer; Related Names: United States. Resettlement Administration. Date Created/Published: [1935 Nov.]; Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 35 mm. Reproduction Number: LC-USF33-T01-000135-M1 (b&w film dup. neg.) LC-DIG-fsa-8a00218 (digital file from original neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

The Capitol can be seen in the background of this backyard slum scene

Title: The Capitol can be seen in the background of this backyard slum scene, Washington, D.C. Creator(s): Mydans, Carl, photographer; Related Names: United States. Resettlement Administration. Date Created/Published: 1935 July. Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 35 mm. Reproduction Number: LC-USF33-T01-000171-M2 (b&w film dup. neg.) LC-DIG-fsa-8a00360 (digital file from original neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Rural rehabilitation client

Title: Rural rehabilitation client. Chicken farmer making good on rural resettlement loan. He sells one case of eggs a day. Worked on a state emergency relief administration job previous to loan. San Fernando Valley, California; Creator(s): Lange, Dorothea, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1936 Feb. Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 4 x 5 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USF34-T01-001904-C (b&w film dup. neg.) LC-DIG-fsa-8b27123 (digital file from original neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Young cherry picker, near Millville, New Jersey

Title: Young cherry picker, near Millville, New Jersey. The cherry crop is harvested by local families, men, women, and children; Creator(s): Lange, Dorothea, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1936 June. Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USF34-009194-E (b&w film nitrate neg.) LC-USZ62-118014 (b&w film copy neg. from print) LC-DIG-fsa-8b29563 (digital file from original neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Wife of tractor driver on the Aldridge Plantation

Title: Wife of tractor driver on the Aldridge Plantation. Mississippi; Creator(s): Lange, Dorothea, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1937 June-July. Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USF34-017568-E (b&w film nitrate neg.) LC-DIG-fsa-8b32148 (digital file from original neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Washington, D.C. Negro youth reading a funny paper on a door step

Title: Washington, D.C. Negro youth reading a funny paper on a door step in the Southwest section; Creator(s): Parks, Gordon, 1912-2006, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 Nov. Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsa-8d23337 (digital file from original neg.) LC-USW3-010689-E (b&w film nitrate neg.) LC-USZ62-130590 (b&w film copy neg. from file print); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Washington, D.C. First aid class of the air raid warden unit

Title: Washington, D.C. First aid class of the air raid warden unit in the Southwest area. Mr. Elmer House, instructor, listening to an oral recitation by members of the class; Creator(s): Parks, Gordon, 1912-2006, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 Nov. Medium: 1 negative : safety ; 4 x 5 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USW3-011405-C (b&w film neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Southfields, New York. Interracial activities at camp Nathan Hale

Title: Southfields, New York. Interracial activities at camp Nathan Hale, where children are aided by the Methodist Camp Service. First aid; Creator(s): Parks, Gordon, 1912-2006, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1943 Aug.? Medium: 1 negative : safety ; 4 x 5 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsa-8d40643 (digital file from original neg.) LC-USW3-036777-C (b&w film neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Women selling ice cream and cake

Title: Women selling ice cream and cake, Scotts Run, West Virginia; Creator(s): Evans, Walker, 1903-1975, photographer; Related Names: United States. Resettlement Administration. Date Created/Published: 1935 July. Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 35 mm. Reproduction Number: LC-USF3301-009005-M1 (b&w film dup. neg.) LC-DIG-fsa-8a19561 (digital file from original neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions

The Church of the Nazarene

Title: The Church of the Nazarene. Tennessee; Creator(s): Evans, Walker, 1903-1975, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1936. Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 8 x 10 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USF342-T01-008279-A (b&w film dup. neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on images made by the U.S. government; images copied from other sources may be restricted

Sheffield, Alabama. Reynolds Alloys Company

Title: Sheffield, Alabama. Reynolds Alloys Company. Rolls of precious aluminum under guard; Creator(s): Delano, Jack, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 Aug. Medium: 1 negative : safety ; 4 x 5 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USW3-005392 (b&w film neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Sheffield, Alabama. Reynolds Alloys Company1

Title: Sheffield, Alabama. Reynolds Alloys Company. Workman gauging the thickness of a sheet of aluminum which he is rolling; Creator(s): Delano, Jack, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 Aug. Medium: 1 negative : safety ; 4 x 5 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USW3-005423 (b&w film neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Vultee Aircraft Corporation plant

Title: Vultee Aircraft Corporation plant; Creator(s): Delano, Jack, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 Aug. Medium: 1 negative : safety ; 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USW3-006267-D (b&w film neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

Vultee Aircraft Corporation plant1

Title: Vultee Aircraft Corporation plant; Creator(s): Delano, Jack, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 Aug. Medium: 1 negative : safety ; 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 inches or smaller. Reproduction Number: LC-USW3-006171-D (b&w film neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions.

In 1943, there were huge conflicts in the agency due to the fact they could not release truthful facts to the American people as military withheld information for public safety.

Many of OWI employees resigned from office as they felt that they could no longer give an actual picture of the war to the public, due to pressure from the promoters.

The FSA was replaced by Farmers Home Administration, an agency that helped tenants purchase farms, by financing them.

What you see here are the FSA-OWI collection of images made between 1939 and 1944 by the FSA photographers. Below are some of their images in color.

Sit back and absorb the stories that these images contain…

Brockton, Mass., Dec. 1940, second-hand plumbing store

Title: Brockton, Mass., Dec. 1940, second-hand plumbing store; Creator(s): Delano, Jack, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1940 Dec. Medium: 1 slide : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a33851 (digital file from original slide) LC-USF351-3 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Backstage at the girlie show at the Vermont state fair, Rutland

Title: “Backstage” at the “girlie” show at the Vermont state fair, Rutland; Creator(s): Delano, Jack, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1941 Sept. Medium: 1 slide : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a33920 (digital file from original slide) LC-USF351-50 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Children gathering potatoes on a large farm

Title: Children gathering potatoes on a large farm, vicinity of Caribou, Aroostook County, Me. Schools do not open until the potatoes are harvested; Creator(s): Delano, Jack, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1940 Oct. Medium: 1 slide : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a33844 (digital file from original slide) LC-USF351-63 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Day-laborers picking cotton near Clarksdale

Title: Day-laborers picking cotton near Clarksdale, Miss.; Creator(s): Wolcott, Marion Post, 1910-1990, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1939 Nov. Medium: 1 slide : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a34337 (digital file from original slide) LC-USF351-145 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Going to town on Saturday afternoon

Title: Going to town on Saturday afternoon, Greene County, Ga.; Creator(s): Delano, Jack, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1941 May Medium: 1 slide : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a33876 (digital file from original slide) LC-USF351-101 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Cutting Burley tobacco and putting it on sticks to wilt before taking it into the curing

Title: Cutting Burley tobacco and putting it on sticks to wilt before taking it into the curing and drying barn on the Russell Spears' farm, vicinity of Lexington, Ky.; Creator(s): Wolcott, Marion Post, 1910-1990, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1940 Sept. Medium: 1 slide : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a34370 (digital file from original slide) LC-USF351-164 (color film copy slide) LC-USZ62-120795 (b&w film copy neg. from print in lot); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Mountaineers and farmers trading mules and horses on Jockey St

Title: Mountaineers and farmers trading mules and horses on “Jockey St.,” near the Court House, Campton, Wolfe County, Ky.; Creator(s): Wolcott, Marion Post, 1910-1990, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1940 Sept. Medium: 1 slide : color. Summary: Photograph shows Sign on building: Wolfe County Office WPA Project Superintendent; sign on car: Jesus saves. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a34387 (digital file from original slide) LC-USF351-192 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Canning plant where peas are principal project

Title: Canning plant where peas are principal project, Milton-Freewater, Oregon; Creator(s): Lee, Russell, 1903-1986, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1941 July Medium: 1 transparency : color. Summary: Photograph shows Rogers Canning Co. on building. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a34222 (digital file from original transparency) LC-USF351-211 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Student pilots, Meacham Field

Title: Student pilots, Meacham Field, Fort Worth, Tex.; Creator(s): Rothstein, Arthur, 1915-1985, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 Jan. Medium: 1 slide : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a34244 (digital file from original slide) LC-USF351-281 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Boys sitting on truck parked at the FSA

Title: Boys sitting on truck parked at the FSA … labor camp, Robstown, Tex.; Creator(s): Rothstein, Arthur, 1915-1985, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 Jan. Medium: 1 slide : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a34264 (digital file from original slide) LC-USF351-301 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Woman at the community laundry on Saturday afternoon

Title: Woman at the community laundry on Saturday afternoon, FSA … camp, Robstown, Tex.; Creator(s): Rothstein, Arthur, 1915-1985, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 Jan. Medium: 1 slide : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a34260 (digital file from original slide) LC-USF351-297 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Mrs. Norris with homegrown cabbage

Title: Mrs. Norris with homegrown cabbage, one of the many vegetables which the homesteaders grow in abundance, Pie Town, New Mexico; Creator(s): Lee, Russell, 1903-1986, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1940 Oct. Medium: 1 slide : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a34117 (digital file from original slide) LC-USF351-338 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Jim Norris, homesteader

Title: Jim Norris, homesteader, Pie Town, New Mexico; Creator(s): Lee, Russell, 1903-1986, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1940 Oct. Medium: 1 slide : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a34135 (digital file from original slide) LC-USF351-356 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Homesteader feeding his daughter at the Pie Town

Title: Homesteader feeding his daughter at the Pie Town, New Mexico Fair free barbeque; Creator(s): Lee, Russell, 1903-1986, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1940 Oct. Medium: 1 slide : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a34142 (digital file from original slide) LC-USF351-363 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Llano de San Juan

Title: Llano de San Juan, New Mexico, Catholic Church; Creator(s): Lee, Russell, 1903-1986, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1940 July or Oct. Medium: 1 slide : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a34155 (digital file from original slide) LC-USF351-376 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

T[enant] P[urchase] borrower

Title: FSA – T[enant] P[urchase] borrower? in her garden, Puerto Rico; Creator(s): Delano, Jack, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1941 Dec. [or] 1942 Jan. Medium: 1 slide : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a34005 (digital file from original slide) LC-USF351-392 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Sugar cane workers

Title: Sugar cane workers, vicinity of Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico; Creator(s): Delano, Jack, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1941 Dec. Medium: 1 slide : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a34053 (digital file from original slide) LC-USF351-499 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Tomatoes at the Yauco Cooperative Growers' Association

Title: Tomatoes at the Yauco Cooperative Growers' Association, Puerto Rico; Creator(s): Delano, Jack, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 Jan. Medium: 1 slide : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a34049 (digital file from original slide) LC-USF351-495 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Co-op orange packing plant, Redlands

Title: Co-op orange packing plant, Redlands, Calif. Workman is doing the preliminary sorting, picking out the discards. Santa Fe trip; Creator(s): Delano, Jack, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1943 March Medium: 1 transparency : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a34765 (digital file from original transparency) LC-USW361-876 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Answering the nation's need for womanpower

Title: Answering the nation's need for womanpower, Mrs. Virginia Davis made arrangement for the care of her two children during the day and joined her husband at work in the Naval Air Base, Corpus Christi, Texas. Both are employed under Civil Service in the Assembly and repair department. Mrs. Davis' training will enable her to take the place of her husband should he be called by the armed service; Creator(s): Hollem, Howard R., photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 August Medium: 1 transparency : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a34867 (digital file from original transparency) LC-USW361-47 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Mary Louise Stepan, 21, used to be a waitress

Title: Mary Louise Stepan, 21, used to be a waitress. She has a brother in the air corps. She is working on transport parts in the hand mill, Consolidated Aircraft Corp., Fort Worth, Texas; Creator(s): Hollem, Howard R., photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 Oct. Medium: 1 transparency : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a34943 (digital file from original transparency) LC-USW361-292 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Lathe operator machining parts for transport planes at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation plant

Title: Lathe operator machining parts for transport planes at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation plant, Fort Worth, Texas; Creator(s): Hollem, Howard R., photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 Oct. Medium: 1 transparency : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a34951 (digital file from original transparency) LC-USW361-421 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

One of the girls of Vilter [Manufacturing] Co

Title: One of the girls of Vilter [Manufacturing] Co. filing small gun parts, Milwaukee, Wisc. One brother in Coast Guard, one going to Army.; Creator(s): Hollem, Howard R., photographer; Date Created/Published: 1943 Feb. Medium: 1 transparency : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a34973 (digital file from original transparency) LC-USW361-467 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Transfusion donor bottles

Title: Transfusion donor bottles, Baxter Lab., Glenview, Ill.; Creator(s): Hollem, Howard R., photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 Oct. Medium: 1 transparency : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a34971 (digital file from original transparency) LC-USW361-418 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Good man, good gun

Title: Good man, good gun: a private of the armored forces does some practice shooting with a 30-calibre Browning machine gun, Fort Knox, Ky. The gun is mounted on a pedestal for anti-aircraft work; Creator(s): Palmer, Alfred T., photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 June Medium: 1 transparency : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a35205 (digital file from original transparency) LC-USW361-169 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

A good job in the air cleaner of an army truck

Title: A good job in the air cleaner of an army truck, Fort Knox, Ky. This Negro soldier, who serves as truckdriver and mechanic, plays an important part in keeping army transport fleets in operation; Creator(s): Palmer, Alfred T., photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 June Medium: 1 transparency : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a35222 (digital file from original transparency) LC-USW361-187 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Welder making boilers for a ship

Title: Welder making boilers for a ship, Combustion Engineering Co., Chattanooga, Tenn.; Creator(s): Palmer, Alfred T., photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 June Medium: 1 transparency : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a35231 (digital file from original transparency) LC-USW361-14 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Woman working on an airplane motor at North American Aviation

Title: Woman working on an airplane motor at North American Aviation, Inc., plant in Calif.; Creator(s): Palmer, Alfred T., photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 June Medium: 1 transparency : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a35287 (digital file from original transparency) LC-USW361-142 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Two women workers are shown capping and inspecting tubing

Title: Two women workers are shown capping and inspecting tubing which goes into the manufacture of the “Vengeance” (A-31) dive bomber made at Vultee's Nashville division, Tennessee. The “Vengeance” (A-31) was originally designed for the French. It was later adopted by the R.A.F. and still later by the U.S. Army Air Forces. It is a single-engine, low-wing plane, carrying a crew of two men and having six machine guns of varying calibers; Creator(s): Palmer, Alfred T., photographer; Date Created/Published: 1943 Feb. Medium: 1 transparency : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a35376 (digital file from original transparency) LC-USW361-471 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Japanese-American camp, war emergency evacuation

Title: Japanese-American camp, war emergency evacuation, [Tule Lake Relocation Center, Newell, Calif.]; Date Created/Published: 1942 or 1943. Medium: 1 transparency : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a35013 (digital file from original transparency) LC-USW361-786 (color film copy slide) LC-USW36-BN-786 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Woman aircraft worker

Title: Woman aircraft worker, Vega Aircraft Corporation, Burbank, Calif. Shown checking electrical assemblies; Creator(s): Bransby, David, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 June Medium: 1 transparency : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a34456 (digital file from original transparency) LC-USW361-273 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Woman machinist

Title: Woman machinist, Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, Calif.; Creator(s): Palmer, Alfred T., photographer; Date Created/Published: 1942 Oct. Medium: 1 transparency : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a35355 (digital file from original transparency) LC-USW361-127 (color film copy slide); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

A History of the Great Depression – Further Resources

If you wish to see the whole collection, head over to the Library of Congress’s FSA and OWI Collection, Black and White Photographs and Colour Photographs.


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About the author

Dahlia Ambrose

Dahlia is one of the staff writers at Light Stalking and besides writing, she also responds to customer queries, schedules social media posts and helps with product development. She has been around seven years since she took up photography seriously and her main interests are travel photography and photographing the night sky. Some of her works can be seen on 500px and Instagram. She has a postgraduate research degree in Physics, a certificate in teaching, and a diploma in business administration and customer service. Her work experiences are varied from lecturing in science and engineering at colleges in India to working in various roles for retailers  and the local authority in the UK. She is now pursuing her passion for travel and photography where she spends a couple of months on each country she visits.

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