America: the Way We Were in the Great Depression


A Historic Photo Archive Re-emerges at the New York Public Library


From the New York Times

“Roy Stryker, founder of the Farm Security Administration’s photography project, was determined to compile a visual encyclopedia of the United States in the 1930s and ’40s and preserve it for future generations.

So, while photographers like Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans and Russell Lee crisscrossed the country, Mr. Stryker was sending boxes of prints to Romana Javitz, the director of the New York Public Library Picture Collection, to make sure there was a repository other than the National Archives.”

(all in this photos by US Farm Security Administration courtesy of the New York Times and the New York Public Library. All photos are in the public domain)


Homeless: Squatters camping on a highway near Bakersfield, California, in 1935.


Hard-knock life: A California fruit ‘tramp’ was photographed with his family in a migrant camp in Marysville in 1935.



Destitute children sitting on the steps of a dilapidated house in Michigan in June of 1937.



Bleak: Dust bowl refugees photographed along a highway near Bakersfield, California, in 1935.



Down-and-out: Mother and father and several children of a family of nine living in open field in rough board covering built on old Ford chassis on U.S. Route 70, between Bruceton and Camden, Tennessee.



Jobless: At the height of the Great Depression, as many as 15 million Americans were unemployed or 25% of eligible workers in the population.



The poorest of the poor: Houses of African-Americans in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in 1936.


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Downtrodden: Children of migrant fruit worker in Berrien County, Michigan.


the remainder of this article can be found on the website of the New York Times here:

New York Times story on the New York Public Library Images of the Great Depression

These photographs are just a sample of the thousands of photographs taken during the Great Depression which can be found online at New York Public Library’s special website for this collection here:

New York Public Library Depression Photo Collection


The entire collection of 41,000 images from the Farm Security Administration, which does not include the photos in the New York Public Library can be found here:

US Government Farm Security Administration photos from the Great Depression

Published by

Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: