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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 • NORTH TUSCANY COAST, 1948

End of the Road: 1935

End of the Road: 1935

June 1935. "Children of Oklahoma drought refugees on highway near Bakersfield, California. Family of six; no shelter, no food, no money and almost no gasoline. The child has bone tuberculosis." View full size. Medium-format nitrate negative by Dorothea Lange for the Resettlement Administration.

Ankles

The smaller little girl appears to have some joint issues as well, alas, given the appearance of her ankles.

I guess this is one story's end we will probably never know. But whatever happened, at least they are not lost to history.

Another "Okie"

As a resident of Oklahoma now and lived here in my youth, I am amazed how ANY down-and-out person was from "Oklahoma" in all pitiful migrant photos from the 1930's. I have always wondered how 5 million "Okies" moved from Oklahoma which had barely over one million residents. Fascinating--maybe they subdivided on the way west...

[The population of Oklahoma in 1930 was 2.405 million; 10 years later it was 2.336 million, a loss of 69,000 people. Nobody is claiming that 5 million Oklahomans moved to California. - Dave]

The 1930s

I lived through the Depression. I thought I had it rough because my new Sears mail order shoes would come a week after school started and would be asked why I did not wear new shoes the first day of school. Seeing this family I now know what rough is. I do pray they got to California and their life improved.

Perspective

When I look at this photo as a history buff, it's so sad and poignant and so succinctly conveys the hard times of The Dust Bowl...and I say a silent word of thanks for photographers like Lange.

But when I look it as a mother, I am shaken at how desperately *afraid* these parents must have been--seriously, sickeningly, scared of how they would feed these children and what the future held for this precarious little family during this nation's Hard Times. (And I always wonder if Ms. Lange parted with some hard candy for the urchins in the picture or slipped a few dollars to the father when no one was looking...)

 
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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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