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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.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Winsome Ragamuffins II

Winsome Ragamuffins II

April 1940. Dubuque, Iowa. "Children who live in the slums." Our second look at this towheaded twosome, a sort of proto-Opie and his sister. 35mm nitrate negative by John Vachon for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

These children were loved.

These children may not have lived in the best house in town, but they look well-fed and adequately clothed and shod. Believe their parents did what it took to keep those little folks cared for and cared about. And I weep for my little children, who always lived in a nice house and always had at least enough, but whose mother abandoned them years ago, when my daughter was 8 and my little fellow 5.

One day at a time

I'm convinced this is a young Bonnie Franklin.

Texas Citrus

What a neat connection with the pictures of the other children from Weslaco & Harlingen, Texas, posted earlier. That fruit box is from the Rio Grande Valley, maybe even from the farms/orchards worked by the FSA workers. Small world.


The reason my eyes tear up when I look at this photograph is because it makes me remember how sweet and innocent my own children where at that age.

Re: Cute Kids

Maybe the dirt is the reason for their smiles, no? All these years removed, it's not always easy to remember the fun of being carefree, running and exploring the outdoors from sun up to sundown -- but it's there, tucked away. Something tells me there was no need for the photographer to apply any more dirt than was already on those adorable faces!

Sad or happy, these children tug at my heartstrings!

Not always a hindrance

My mother, born in 1919, grew up poor and also with a crossed eye, she always said it developed her backbone in life. My father found a doctor in 1957 to correct it. Many photographs later she was convinced it was fixed.

Cute kids

Since the first picture of these kids I've wondered if maybe the photographer dirtied their faces up for effect. Guess I'm of a cynical nature.

[You should read up on John Vachon. - Dave]

We Were Poor

but we didn't know any better. This photograph is definitely my favorite of the two. It's showing them with a winning smile and a "we can make a better future" look, which is what America is all about.


They look a lot happier here. Why does that comfort me?

Also? Check out the buckles on the little girl's shoes. FABULOUS. I'll bet she loved them.

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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