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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Old Folks at Home: 1935

Old Folks at Home: 1935

October 1935. Brown County, Indiana. Prospective Resettlement Administration clients whose property has been optioned by the government. View full size. 35mm nitrate negative by Theodor Jung for the Farm Security Administration.

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Brown County IN

Brown County has the largest Indiana state park and part of the Hoosier National Forest. Brown County has by far the highest concentration of forested land of any of Indiana's 92 counties with nearly 90% coverage and almost no large farms at all. I think these people we relocated to help create these great parks.

Resettlement Administration

The resettlement of tens of thousands of people occurred through government action in the 1930s. In some cases it was for projects like the Tennessee Valley Authority where vast areas of bottom lands were flooded and the owners of the land, many of them having families that dated to the Revolutionary War period, were "resettled". In other cases, people lived on what the government determined to be submarginal lands and they were bought out and given the option of settling in a "homestead project" such as the ones developed by the FSA and, earlier, the Resettlement Administration. I don't know the particular history of Brown County, Indiana, where clients were "optioned", but it appears to fit that pattern.

However, in Louisiana at Transylvania Plantation just south of Lake Providence, blacks who had lived on the plantation since the Civil War were evicted by the FSA and white farmers were brought onto the land. The only evidence of this is determined by the photographs made by Russell Lee. There is no reliable history, at this point, that tells us exactly what took place and why (except for the photographic evidence). The result of the removal of hundreds of black tenants, their houses turned over to the new arrivals as well as their churches and community center, was an embittered and angry black population. They formed the nucleus of a particularly militant civil rights group based in Lake Providence. It appears that throughout the south the projects set up by the FSA had very long lasting implications.

The government had determined that FSA projects would be segregated, at the instigation of politicians, which was a profoundly different pattern for sharecroppers in particular who lived in racially mixed arrangements on the land. the result, time and again of this "resettlement" in the south was that whites and blacks were separated and concentrated in isolated communities. the black communities were often the font of civil rights work in their region. The white communities such as the Dyess Project in Arkansas were the centers of the Ku Klux Klan.

Here is a website that outlines some of our research:


Can someone decode what the caption means? Resettlement clients? Property optioned? It sounds like their farm dustbowled up and the Roosevelt government is buying them out, but I'd like the official word... Thanks!

[Wikipedia article on the Resettlement Administration. - Dave]

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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