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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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Home Sweet Hovel: 1936

Home Sweet Hovel: 1936

December 1936. "Mrs. Charles Benning sweeping steps of shack in Shantytown. Spencer, Iowa." Seen earlier here with her baby. View full size. 35mm nitrate negative by Russell Lee for the Resettlement Administration.

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Cook shack

This is a cook shack that was towed by a steam tractor. The curved roof matches the canopy of the engines. Threshing crews used these for food prep and storage.

Watch that first step!

Looking at the protruding metal above the "dangerous" box, I wonder if this shack might not have begun life as some sort of truck body. That looks like it could be a heavy chassis, and the detritus next to the shack includes a steering wheel and an auto or truck cab.

Sort of "I drove it as far as it would go, and now we're stuck here!"

[The protruding part is wood, not metal (below). The little shacks were dragged around by horse team. - Dave]

Dynamite Photo

Looks like one of the front steps is made from an old TNT container.


It is interesting to note the different sets of wires in the photo. One set seems to be going to this shack itself. Note the light bulb over the doorway, so they had electricity despite the poor circumstances.

Shack Lady

Interesting, that the inside of the place looked so much neater than the exterior. The only thing she had left is whatever dignity she could muster. The interior shot showed the made bed, a cleanly clothed child, curtained window and Mrs. Benning looking fondly at her baby. I hope her life improved and the child grew up in better circumstances. That the depression didn't kill the spirit of our country is a tribute to people like her.

Shantytown Shack

Wow, the inside picture looks a LOT roomier!

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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