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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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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE NAVY NEEDS YOU IN THE WAVES

After Taxes: 1939

After Taxes: 1939

February 1939. "White mother with children at migrant camp. Weslaco, Texas." Background for this series of photos as recorded by Russell Lee in his notes: "Local employment men say that there was no need for migrant labor to handle the citrus and vegetable crops in the valley, the local supply of labor being ample for this purpose. Most of the local labor is Mexican and the labor contractors favor Mexican labor over white labor, partly because the Mexican will work much cheaper than whites. One white woman who was a permanent resident said that the white people who lived in the valley had no trouble with the Mexicans. The Mexicans were good neighbors, she said, always willing to share what they had. She said the white migrants who came into the valley and resented and misunderstood the Mexicans caused the trouble between the two races. Some towns in this section permit camping only in trailers. The charge for camping in tents is about fifty cents per week, including water, which in some cases must be carried four city blocks. Privies are tin, very bad condition. Garbage is collected only once a week, with large dumps of decaying fruits and vegetables scattered among the camps. Some of the white migrants in this camp were very suspicious of governmental activity, due to the use by south Texas newspapers of the term 'concentration camps' referring to Farm Security Administration camps." Medium format nitrate negative by Russell Lee for the FSA. View full size.

 

Class

Through all her obvious hard times this lady maintains a look of dignity with her beautiful children.I hope they all had happy lives.

Reading Material

There's a book/magazine/catalog to the left behind the baby child I can't make out. Would love to know what it is/its travels.

[It's a Chesterfield cigarette ad on the back of a magazine. - Dave]

Russell Lee's comments

I found Russell Lee's background comments to be fascinating. I guess even back in the 1930's labor was an issue between immigrants (illegal or legal, who knows?) and migrants from the Dust Bowl days. The faces of the mother and children tell stories of their own, don't they?

today

I WISH SOMEONE WOULD PUT THIS ON THE NET...I DONT KNOW HOW ... WITH THE CAPTION..THIS IS IN OUR FUTURE IF
WE CONTINUE TO NOT TALK ABOU THE ELEPAHNT IN THE LIVING ROOM.

[The "elepahnt," oddly enough, has no problem talking about crazy all-caps guy. - Dave]

Seventy years ago

That's really not such a long time. I wonder how well we're going to handle the next economic rough patch? Who will be taking the pictures this time?

 
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Shorpy.com | 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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