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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Farmville: 1938

Farmville: 1938

May 1938. "Farm family, Scioto Farms, Ohio." 35mm nitrate negative by Arthur Rothstein for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.
UPDATE: This is Earl Armentrout and his family, government rehabilitation clients who were relocated by the Resettlement Administration to a new house in a cooperative farming project, a story repeated thousands of times for families who were forced off the land by crop failures during the Dust Bowl era.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5


I don't doubt the strength and overall happiness of this family, even in hard times, but it seems to me that most are reacting rather than posing. I suspect that they are reacting to something the photographer said, but the very fact that they are in an amiable mood says a lot.

Resettlement Programs

There was a large resettlement program like the one refered to here in the area of Crossville TN where I am from. The families were selected from many who applied and they worked together to clear the land, building barns first to live in while the houses were built using wood cut from the property and stone quarried as well. It brought a group of very special families many who remained here.

They had cooperative farming, a furniture factory, a lumber mill etc. and the farms were designed to be subsistence farms for the families to raise their own food. The photo above was probably taken on move in day and would esplain the very happy faces.

An Only Child's Dream

By all appearances, what a fun family to be a member of! I can just imagine all the activity and the dinner conversations 'round the table with this gang. I so hope one or more the Armentrout clan navigates to this post and introduces him/herself.

A little thing

But I love that it's the dad that's holding the baby, not the mom. That feels unusual to me for this time (am I wrong?).

The love and happiness on their faces is a real inspiration.

A Tolstoy family

An example of Tolstoy's happy families ("Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way"). These people really are a happy family.

I bet they are feeling some serious relief

I cannot imagine trying to raise seven children in the Depression on a farm that was yielding nothing. I bet the relocation in many ways felt like a blessed fresh start. Good on 'em. (And I love too that the baby is giving a thumbs up!)

Loving Couple

The headstone gives a clue as to how happy and loving Mr. and Mrs. Armentrout were. I don't know why she passed on, but the dates say he died of a broken heart. Any idea if the children know their family portrait is now on Time's 15th best blog of 2010? It would be very interesting to see these kids as adults and with their children, and their children's children.

[If past experience is any guide, we will eventually be hearing from some Armentrouts. - Dave]

Re: 1899-1967

They say women survive their men, but men don't live long once their women are gone. Earl only lasted three months.


Even the baby is giving a thumbs up!

No Tea Party here

A government program that helped the American people that was not met with self-proclaimed ultra conservatives ranting about a socialist president leading America to damnation.

God Bless America.

[Actually, Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal programs encountered exactly that kind of criticism. - Dave]


Googled Earl Armentrout, and came up with this from Ohio. Is this the same man?

[I checked the SSDI records for various Earl Armentrouts -- this would seem to be he. His wife was Lovie Mae. - Dave]

Yes, Virginia.

There is a Walton's Mountain.

American Life

A very nice photo of a proud American farm family. A slice of 1938 farm life.

Eating regularly really makes a difference.

They seem so happy. I guess being a farm family they had enough to eat. Quite a difference from the photo of the slum children posted recently.

I love this picture

In how many family photos of today would you see that many genuinely happy-looking faces? You can just see the pride in the father's eyes. Wish I could have lived there with them.

Put on a happy face

While it sounds as corny as Kansas in August to say so, an amazing amount of happiness seems to be radiating from this family. I don't know when I've seen such genuine smiles.

They are all happy

To pose for the pic for the "Farm Family of the Year" in Ohio.

It'll get you

One heck of a good looking family. It's a shame we don't know who they are, to find out how things turned out for them.

Nine Happy Faces

It is difficult to "fake" genuine serenity and joy but I sense that it was present in each of the family members pictured here just from the very sincere and natural smiles all around. I would bet that this was a tightknit supportive family, all for one, one for all. They really light up this photo in a good way. For all the young whippersnappers out there, it was not unusual for families in those days to have seven, eight, nine kids and more. Family farmers and ranchers often produced their own employees as appears to have happened here, yet nobody appears to be suffering. Bless 'em all. Ain't nobody's business but their own.

The Good Old Days

Compare this family to any of the "Real Houswives" of Orange County etc., or "John and Kate Plus Eight." Simple, honest, happy, children proud of the kittens they are holding. How far off track we are now!

Genuinely Happy

Looking at the picture, I don't get the feeling that any of the people are just smiling for the camera. There seems to be genuine happiness on every single face - not a single sourpuss. Makes you wonder if home life for this family was as upbeat and warm as the picture portrays.

Brings To Mind

"Our house is a very, very fine house
With two cats in the yard
Life used to be so hard
Now everything is easy
'Cause of you"

Nice contrast to other Depression-era photos

A farm family that looks happy, healthy, and reasonably prosperous. You see enough of those Dorothea Lange images, you begin to think there were NO viable, operating farms in America in the '30s. Which is impossible, of course.

[As it turns out (see caption), these folks had been relocated from a failed Dust Bowl farm by the Resettlement Administration. - Dave]

A farmer's work is never done

"Come sunup, got me some plowin' t'do! Come sundown, got me some plowin' t'do!"

Depression era?

What a great family photo! I had to remind myself that this was taken during the Great Depression, for they seem so happy and healthy. It goes to show that not every family suffered all the time during the Great Depression. These kids are happy, clean, and appear healthy. I bet some are still around.

The Acorn

The old man sure put his stamp on the oldest boy.

Aw, kitties

Relaxed, well fed, happy kitties!


Now that is one good looking family.

Happy days

They certainly are a cheerful bunch, compared to what we usually see in FSA photographs! Even the cat on the right is smiling.


Only a few decades before, it was decidedly not done to get yourself photographed while smiling. It's so good to see that had changed by this time.

So different

This family is a contrast to the Dust Bowl poverty we see often at Shorpy. I love those cute kitties and the way the children love (ack! choke! gasp!) them.

Thank you!

Such beautiful smiles and joy in this photo. It made my morning.

Great Family

What a great-looking, loving, happy family. Love the kittens. Must have been a great family to grow up in.


This photo is mind blowing! Look at the faces on these folks, especially the children. No ADD, no prescription medications because there depressed. Pure Family happiness that a Park Avenue kid couldn't buy for a million bucks. Total respect for each other, animals (speaks volumes) and life. You made my day.

Farm Fam

These guys look exceptionally healthy for a Depression era family - none of that terrible gauntness, not even in the mother who has borne so many children -- shiny hair, big smiles. And kittens!

A very hopeful picture of a bad time in American history.

Goes to show

What having no TV will get you.

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