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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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The Merry Strikers: 1938

The Merry Strikers: 1938

August 1938. "Picket line at the King Farm strike near Morrisville, Pennsylvania. Negro and white agricultural workers striking against an hourly wage of 17 to 20 cents." Medium format negative by John Vachon. View full size.

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From the LoC:

Found at Credit: Library of Congress

During the 1930s, Pennsylvania farmers continued to seasonally employ thousands of men and women desperate for jobs. Awful living conditions and low wages pushed some workers to the breaking point. In the summer of 1938, workers near Morrisville staged a strike when the King Farm refused to pay them more than 17 to 20 cents an hour. The strike attracted the attention of the Federal Farm Bureau Administration (FSA), which sent John Vachon (1915-1975) to photograph what was taking place. An FSA messenger and clerk, Vachon later would become an acclaimed documentary photographer, working for Life Magazine and other major publications.

Cheap employer

Well I'll be the first to use the old inflation calculator. The 17 to 20 cents per hour in '38 is now equal to $2.73 to $3.22 an hour. Given the fact that the current minimum wage is $7.25, this employer is one cheapskate!


Back when I had hair I never had that much. It's not fair.

World's most contented strikers

Pleasant smiles, no traces of anger... kinda takes the edge off that militant labor image. And how about those four sets of near-perfect, pre-orthodontia teeth?

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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