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.
Vintage photos of:
August 1939. Yakima Valley near Wapato, Washington. Farm Security Administration client Chris Adolph. "My father made me work. That was his mistake, he made me work too hard. I learned about farming but nothing out of the books." View full size. Photograph by Dorothea Lange.
Today, the first installment of another selection of photos by Dorothea Lange of Midwesterners en route from the drought-stricken farms of the 1930s Dust Bowl to California, Oregon, Washington and the South. The captions are hers.
August 1936. Family between Dallas and Austin, Texas. The people have left their home and connections in South Texas, and hope to reach the Arkansas Delta for work in the cotton fields. Penniless people. No food and three gallons of gas in the tank. The father is trying to repair a tire. Three children. Father says, "It's tough but life's tough anyway you take it." View full size. Photo by Dorothea Lange.
Oregon, August 1939. "Unemployed lumber worker goes with his wife to the bean harvest. Note Social Security number tattooed on his arm." View full size | Buy fine-art print. (And now a bit of Shorpy scholarship/detective work. A public records search shows that 535-07-5248 belonged to one Thomas Cave, born July 1912, died in 1980 in Portland. Which would make him 27 years old when this picture was taken.) Medium format safety negative by Dorothea Lange.
August 1936. Drought refugees from Abilene, Texas, following the crops of California as migratory workers. Said the father: "The finest people in this world live in Texas but I just can't seem to accomplish nothin' there. Two year drought, then a crop, then two years drought and so on. I got two brothers still trying to make it back there." View full size. Photograph by Dorothea Lange.