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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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Crate & Barrel: 1936

Crate & Barrel: 1936

July 1936. "Migratory fruit pickers' camp in Yakima, Washington." Dust Bowl refugee from the Midwest hammering away at packing crate scraps outside her tent. Medium-format negative by Arthur Rothstein. View full size.

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The sad part of this picture is that the Zerolene cup grease can would bring more money on Ebay today than what her entire belongings were worth back then.

Hardscrabble doesn't come close

I'm not sure what word describes this woesome setting but whatever it is, it's at least three rungs below "hardscrabble". Note the cylinder under the bridge, most probably a discarded 30 or so gallon galvanized hot water tank pressed into footbridge support duty. The Zerolene box contained a can of Standard Oil (think Esso and Exxon) lubricant used in grease guns to service car and truck suspension joints and other bits. Zerolene had been around almost as long as the motor car itself; here's an ad from the August 7, 1914 (98 years ago today) issue of the Bandon Recorder, in Oregon.

Journey to a new life

Thanks so much for posting these pictures of the migration from North Dakota and Montana to the Northwest. I wish my parents were still alive to see these photos, as this was their journey, and they may have even known some of these fellow travelers.

My parents were the children of farmers in Montana. My mother's family lost their farm when the bank that held the mortgage failed. My father's family fared a little better, but with a young wife and a child to support, my father thought that things might be better for them further west. Certainly the weather was milder - the year they left Montana had a record-setting freezing winter.

They picked apples and peaches in Yakima, where some of my relatives still live. After the harvest, they moved south to Oregon, where my father pulled carrots and my mother found work as a housekeeper. Years later, after my father became a successful business owner, he would tell us stories of living in migrant camps, and how grateful he was for the New Deal.

Makes me appreciate what I've got

Poor soul has lost her farm, lost her teeth, lost probably everything which made life normal, and she's still going on. I'm so moved when I see the camps with refugees from the dust bowl. Makes me think "Normal" is such an ephemeral state.


Grandma has herself a box of excelsior there! Young'uns today would have no idea what folks used to ship their fragile goods in before Styrofoam peanuts were invented 40 years ago. This was it, fine, curled wood shavings. I haven't seen any in years.

I'm sure it's going to be used to kindle a fire in the lady's wood burning stove as soon as she gets the wood cut up (note the flue in the cabin's roof). The crate lumber will be perfect fuel for the old stove; it lights easily, gets hot fast and then burns out shortly after dinner was cooked and water was heated for the dishes.

SHORPY OLD 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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