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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

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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.


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?

THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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