The Great Depression

U.S. Great Depression photos from the 1930's - 1940's
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Did you know that the Great Depression was worldwide but began in the United States with the crash of the stock market on October 29, 1929 (Black Tuesday)? As a result of the Depression, unemployment rose to 25% in the United States and in some countries unemployment was as high as 33%.

The Great Depression of the 1930's and 40's affected economies worldwide for over a decade and no other economic downturn has been as devastating. This collection of photos shows snapshots of life, jobs, the economy and of the people who lived during this notable time in history.
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Part of an impoverished family of nine on a New Mexico highway. Depression refugees from Iowa. Left Iowa in 1932 because of father's ill health. Father an auto mechanic laborer, painter by trade, tubercular. Family has been on relief in Arizona but refused entry on relief roles in Iowa to which state they wish to return. Nine children including a sick four-month-old baby. No money at all. About to sell their belongings and trailer for money to buy food.
A shanty built of refuse near the Sunnyside slack pile, Herrin, Illinois. Many residences in southern Illinois coal towns were built with money borrowed from building and loan associations. During the Depression, building and loan associations almost all went into receivership. Their mortgages were sold for whatever they would bring, and the purchasers demolished houses by the hundreds in order to salvage the scrap lumber. The result was a serious overcrowding and high rents in all the coal towns. A number of people could find no houses to rent, and lived in tents and shanties on the fringes of the town.
Inflation: Almost too recent and painful to recall - the dark days in America's 1930 Depression. Men this side of the sign are assured of a five-cent meal - the rest must wait for generous passersby.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt and President Herbert Hoover on their way to the U.S. Capitol Building for FDR's inauguration. Since Franklin Delano Roosevelt had to wear leg braces and use a cane & braces or a wheelchair (due to having contracted polio as an adult - or perhaps, it is now thought, Guillain-Barre syndrome ), I think they have a blanket over their laps not because of the cold but because it covered FDR's legs and braces. Throughout his presidency, FDR was never publicly photographed, or seen, in his wheelchair or braces. Because of the Depression and WW II, which both occurred during his presidency, it was considered a public boost to see him as "virile". Such were the times. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress
People in this photo:
Aug 10, 1874 - Unknown
The Glen Cook Family of Little Sioux Township, Woodbury County, Iowa in 1936. Glen Cook rented his farm from a loan company and he had to cut his livestock down because of lack of feed. It looks like his family of 6 (plus cat) may be growing by one. Look at the machine on the porch - isn't that a washing machine? Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Lee, Russell, 1903-1986, photographer
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
Added Sep 7, 2011 by: Kathy Pinna
Kathy Pinna
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Note:The unemployment rate in 1938 was just under 20% - the US population was just under 130 million. This photo shows when unemployment benefits began. A line of men inside a division office of the State Employment Service office at San Francisco, California, were waiting to register for benefits on one of the first days the office was open. They received from $6 to $15 per week for up to sixteen weeks. Coinciding with the announcement that the federal unemployment census showed close to ten million persons out of work, twenty-two states began paying unemployment compensation Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, photographer Dorothea Lange
Added Aug 11, 2011 by: Kathy Pinna
Kathy Pinna
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This photo was taken on "Skid Row" - Howard Street in San Francisco, California. So sad. No blankets, no newspapers, no covers . . . and we think that this is a current problem. And it's the middle of winter. (Winter in San Francisco is damp and cold) Photo Courtesy of the Library of Congress, photographer Dorothea Lange
Tulare migrant camp. Visalia, California. "Steel cabins house individual families." I'm sorry, but did anyone think about how hot it gets in Visalia?? I can't imagine living in one of these during 100+ degree heat. Photo courtesy Library of Congress, photographer Arthur Rothstein.
A photo of a WPA (Works Progress Administration) dinner in 1939 held in the Hillview Elementary School cafeteria in Sylvania, Ohio. John B. (Jack) Russell is first from left in front row. Wilda Russell is second from right in front row. John (Al) Russell is second person behind the woman with the baby. WPA was a job finding service that operated during the depression. Both Russell men did whatever job they were called to do.
People in this photo:
1878 - Mar 4, 1957
Added Aug 17, 2016 by: Lauralee Jenkins
Lauralee Jenkins
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Shelby News report about Dan Hornsby: Shows the Columbia Recording of Dan Hornsby's original song that he sold over 9 thousand copies during the depression.
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
Added Jul 9, 2012 by: CJPStaff Hornsby
CJPStaff Hornsby
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Nina Belle (Swift) Harrison and Baby Harriet Harrison on the back porch of their home in Sabula, Iowa.
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
Delta Road, near New Orleans, LA. Emile Riche, a farmer, has a small place bordering the levee, and for a period of years has been fighting the Parish officials for payments due him for damages to his property in the flood of 1927. He used this method of advertising by converting his barns and fences into a medium for visual statement. Photograph shows sign with photographer and camera labelled "I am taking the photogka [sic] of depression anp [sic] starvation at once".
Delta Road, near New Orleans, La. Emile Riche, a farmer, has a small place bordering the levee, and for a period of years has been fighting the Parish officials for payments due him for damages to his property in the flood of 1927. He used this method of advertising by converting his barns and fences into a medium for visual statement. This photo shows Emile Riche standing next to wall of barn covered with writing about his legal claim; also shows starving man with two well-fed men above him labelled depression and starvation.
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
Delta Road, near New Orleans, La. Emile Riche, a farmer, has a small place bordering the levee, and for a period of years has been fighting the Parish officials for payments due him for damages to his property in the flood of 1927. He used this method of advertising by converting his barns and fences into a medium for visual statement This photo shows the wall of the barn covered with writing about his legal claim.
This is a photo of Depression breadline, F.D.R. Memorial, Washington, D.C. added by Ancient Faces on January 9, 2012.
This is a photo of Last minute huddle. Washington, D.C., April 20. Loaded... added by Ancient Faces on January 9, 2012.
Added Jan 9, 2012 by: Ancient Faces
Ancient Faces
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President organizes $4,000,000,000 pump priming campaign. Washington, D.C., April 11. President Roosevelt met with his Relief and Congressional Aides today to the personal command of a new administration fight to check business recession with a $4,000,000,000 pump priming campaign. The president subordinated all other White House business to efforts to hammer his lending and spending program into shape as a major New Deal offensive against recession and unemployment, left to right: Director of the Budget Daniel Bell, Sen. James F. Byrnes, SC. Sen. Carter Glass of Va., Majority Leader of the House Sen. Sam Rayburn of Tex., Sen Kenneth McKeller of Tenn., Sec. of Treasury Henry Morenthau, and in the rear, Rep. Edward Johnson, of Colo., April 11, 1938
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
This is a photo of Presidential conferences useless as means to stem... added by Ancient Faces on January 9, 2012.
Added Jan 9, 2012 by: Ancient Faces
Ancient Faces
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This is a photo of Small purchasing power of workers cause of business... added by Ancient Faces on January 8, 2012.
Added Jan 8, 2012 by: Ancient Faces
Ancient Faces
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This is a photo of A.F. of L. Head demands congressional action to meet... added by Ancient Faces on January 8, 2012.
Added Jan 8, 2012 by: Ancient Faces
Ancient Faces
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This is a photo of Unemployment compensation a protection against business... added by Ancient Faces on January 8, 2012.
Added Jan 8, 2012 by: Ancient Faces
Ancient Faces
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This is a photo of Payment of soldiers bonus partly to blame for current... added by Ancient Faces on January 8, 2012.
Added Jan 8, 2012 by: Ancient Faces
Ancient Faces
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This is a photo of Map depicts significant story on pickup in American... added by Ancient Faces on January 8, 2012.
Added Jan 8, 2012 by: Ancient Faces
Ancient Faces
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Uncompleted hotel on main street, started in 1929, never finished because of depression. Vincennes, Indiana
Washington, Yakima: Monument to Depression. Unfinished hotel standing in center of town. Construction abandoned after collapse of 1929
Depression and drought struck towns as well as farms. Laborers, clerks, building tradesmen immigrated as well as farm people. Caddo, Oklahoma
Negro cotton hoers are taken from the Delta cotton towns to the cotton fields. Most of them are displaced sharecroppers swept off the plantations by tractor farming, depression, crop reduction program, etc. Greenville, Mississippi
Home of former white labor contractor, now general day laborer, Weslaco, Texas
This is a photo of "The sun rises in the west" written and produced by... added by Ancient Faces on January 4, 2012.
Chart: Employment Lost in Depression in Non-Agricultural Occupations
WPA Administrator appears before Senate Relief Committee. Washington, D.C., Mar. 17. Corrington Gill, Asst. WPA Administrator told the Senate Committee on relief today that large numbers of rural families are facing serious deprivation, Gill declared that at least 3,500,000 families. At more than one out of every four rural families has received public assistance at some time during the Depression, 3/4/38
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
Arthur Rothstein photo of a community building in San Luis Valley, Colorado in 1939. Arthur Rothstein took a series of photos in this area, documenting the effects of the Depression and the Dust Bowl on the area.
A photo of unnamed west Texas farmers visiting the nearest town (also not identified) during the Dust Bowl in June of 1937. This photo was taken by Dorothea Lange who traveled the United States, documenting the Dust Bowl and the Depression for the Farm Security Administration. Interesting note: Today, businesses don't want people "loitering" outside. In the 1930's, businesses supplied benches for people to sit and visit!
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
White section gang near King City, California. Before the depression this work was done entirely by Mexican labor
White section gang near King City, California. Before the depression this work was done entirely by Mexican labor
Drought and depression refugee from Oklahoma now working in the pea fields of California. Imperial Valley
This is a photo of Farmhouse on the heavily mortgaged farm of Theodore F.... added by Ancient Faces on December 29, 2011.
This is a photo of Son of depression refugee from Oklahoma now in California added by Ancient Faces on December 29, 2011.
Refugees from Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl arrive in San Fernando, California. This (unnamed family) photo was taken in June of 1935 by Dorothea Lange, who documented many affects of the Dust Bowl on the farmers. The caption says: "More Oklahomans reach Calif. via the cotton fields of Ariz." The family seems to be carrying all of their possessions in their car and there is a box on the front bumper labeled "Scotch Soap'.
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
Note on "mobile housing." Car and homemade trailer in Monterrey County, California
John Bacchetta "Brick King" 1931 with his son Roy Bacchetta driving International Dump Truck at demolition of an old school. Bricks were collected cleaned and recycled during the depression.
People in this photo:
Feb 7, 1892 - January 1968
Elmer Thomas,tending the fire (one of his duties) at a "roadside camp" in Oklahoma. The caption says that each person had his or her duties in these migrant camps. He's also putting lard into a frying pan - I guess that cooking was one of his duties, too. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Lee Russell photographer
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
A Halloween party at the Shafter migrant camp in 1938. The caption says that the children are waiting for refreshments. Halloween costumes were largely homemade but becoming popular in the 1930's. But this was a camp for migrant workers during the Depression and there wasn't a lot of money. Some of the boys had masks, but that seemed to be the extent of the costumes. There was dancing, refreshments, and a few decorations. Not mounds of candy! Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Dorothea Lange photographer
Willy Roberts, county supervisor, examining co-op binder purchased by J.M. Womack, a FSA (Farm Security Administration) borrower who is harvesting oats for Robert J. Waller, another FSA borrower. This photo was taken in 1940, before we became involved in WW II, and was probably a documentation of how the government was supporting farmers. The Depression was still affecting the U.S. economy. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Marion Post Wolcott
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
Added Oct 18, 2011 by: Kathy Pinna
Kathy Pinna
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