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A picture says a thousand words. Historical photographers have managed to capture moments on film that have been viewed in educational books and museums over the years and have taught several generations about the events of the past. Without these photos, it would be hard for students to envision major events such as the sinking of the Titanic, well known battles and even more recent events such as the aftermath of terrorist attacks. While the images aren’t heartwarming or comforting, they give the viewer a sense that they were there and they were part of that historical moment in time, which is important when learning about a subject.
Franklin D. Roosevelt commissioned several photographers who were at the top of their game, to capture Americans during the height of the “Great Depression.” It turned out that there were a lot of photos that made the cut and the project resulted in 180,000 photos that were catalogued by the Library of Congress.
It wasn’t until recently that these photos became digitally accessible and several have never been seen before. The images are breathtaking in their own right and manage to capture Americans in everyday life while also depicting how the Great Depression made an impact on their lives and the lives of their families.
The photo below certainly stands out. It was taken in 1939 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and offers proof of the sad segregation that rippled across America during that time. And this was only the beginning, as the Civil Right Act didn’t go into effect until years later in 1964.
While we often take for granted the meals that we enjoy every day today, meals were minimal during the Great Depression. Taken in Long Pond, Maine in 1943, the image below shows a lumberjack as he breaks for a lunch that consisted of simple foods such as roast pork, hotcakes, beans, coffee, water and milk…
Walking into a baby furniture store today can be overwhelming, as there are so many options that promise to swing, rock and bounce your baby to sleep. But, it wasn’t always like that. The image below shows a baby relaxing in an improvised baby hammock…
During the Great Depression, Virginia workers had trouble finding places to so they relied on boarding houses and shared living quarters that offered a temporary place to sleep. The image below shows a young man sleeping under Mr. Tilly’s furniture store, where he paid three dollars and fifty sense a week to stay.
Today we purchase RV’s with exquisite accommodations that make traveling across country very convenient, but back in the Great Depression, they relied on what work trucks that doubled as living quarters. Americans deemed the vehicles as ‘Hoover Wagons,’ because many blamed President Herbert Hoover on the Great Depression. The image below shows a Tom Tom herb Tonic Truck…
The many medications that fill the aisles of our drug stores today were non-existent during the Great Depression. The young boy in the image below was ill and being fed milk, which was considered a luxury in 1939 and was actually just flour and water mixed. The hope was that the milk would give him the energy he needed to feel better.
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