Anne Darling Photography

Photographs of the Great Depression

By looking at photographs of the Great Depression, we bear witness to one of the most dramatic episodes of economic decline the world has ever seen. It spanned the whole of the 1930s, a huge event which started in the United States, initiated by a stock market crash on October 29th 1929, and spread throughout most of the world's countries.

Some of the photographs of the Great Depression were taken by famous photographers who worked for the government during that era, including such well-known names as Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans and Lewis Hine. Perhaps Lange's Migrant Mother photograph could be said to be the definitive image of all the Great Depression photos. You can read my articles (and see more photos) on Lange, Evans and Hine by clicking the links.

I've also put together below a selection of photos from the Great Depression era of some lesser known photographs. If you need photos for a project, the Franklin D Roosevelt Library has a huge repository of copyright-free photographs on the subject. Many of the best Great Depression photos were taken by photographers who were employed by the US Government, therefore the Library's works are in the public domain. There are also about 5,000 photographs by Lewis Hine in the Library of Congress, including child labour and Red Cross photographs.


Above: Photograph by Dorothea Lange of an unemployed, destitute man leaning against a vacant store, 1935


Above: Farm Security Administration School in Alabama, 1935: Photo from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum


Above: Public health nursing made available through child welfare services (undated): Photo from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum


Above: Volunteers of America Soup Kitchen in Washington, D.C., 1936: Photo from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum


Above: Unemployed shown at Volunteers of America Soup Kitchen in Washington, D.C., 1936: Photo from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum


Above: Man dressed in a worn coat lying down on the pier, New York City Docks, 1935: Photo by Lewis Hine


Above: Black refugees evicted from sharecropping, now on the roadside, Parkin, Arkansas, 1936: Photo by John Vachon


Above: Civilian Conservation Corps workers constructing road, 1933. Over 3 million unemployed young men were taken out of the cities and placed into 2600+ work camps managed by the CCC: Photo from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum


Above: WPA Poster, 1935: The Works Progress Administration (WPA) employed 2 to 3 million unemployed at unskilled labor


Above: Bennett Buggy, 1935: Bennett buggies, or "Hoover wagons", cars pulled by horses, were used by farmers too impoverished to purchase gasoline: Photo from the University of Saskatchewan archives





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