SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
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Photos submitted by Shorpy members.

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Colorized photos submitted by members.

About the Photos

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.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Flood Refugees: 1937

Flood Refugees: 1937

April 1937. "Flood refugee family in tent at Tent City near Shawneetown, Illinois." Photo by Russell Lee for the Resettlement Administration. View full size.

To stay online without a paywall or a lot of pop-up ads, Shorpy needs your help. (Our server rental alone is $3,000 a year.) You can contribute by becoming a Patron, or by purchasing a print from the Shorpy Archive. Or both! Read more about our 2019 pledge drive here. Our last word on the subject is: Thanks!

Free Sewing Machine

That treadle is a “The Free” Sewing Machine, made in Rockford IL. The cabinet is unique to them. They cost around $65 new, and are exceptionally well engineered. The cabinet top has an automatic lift that raises the machine. Free also had an guarantee that gave the original owner a brand new replacement if the machine was destroyed by fire, flood, or accident. It’s no surprise to see it saved as a prized possession. The machines are a favorite with collectors and quilters today.


My mother had one of those treadle sewing machines that very much resembled the one in the picture. I liked to sneak in and work the treadle by hand.

Sunday Funnies

Remember when the Sunday comics were this size instead of the present miniaturized version?

Important Things

Is that a toy motorcycle on the floor to the mother's right? The youngest has a doll. And mother saved her sewing machine (a major investment and a tool for further savings by making things). Today, after the family members, what would we save? Photo albums? Computer disks with photos?

Let there be music

There's also a cabinet Victrola in the right hand side of the photo next to the sewing machine.

Sewing machine

The treadle sewing machine behind the boys seated on the floor has features typical of models from the earlier part of the century (1900-1920); curved drawers and a drop-down head. When the hinged top was opened, a cable lift mechanism raised both the machine and front panel, to allow access for the operator's legs. Nearly every household had a sewing machine, which means that there were millions produced, and that their value today is negligible.

Sewing Machine?

Is that a sewing machine behind the two boys? I think so... it is interesting what people look to save when the flooding begins.

[Fancier than my mother's of similar vintage, interestingly. She was still using hers up into the 1970s. - tterrace]

Worth A Pretty Penny

A few items that would be of value today would be the sewing machine cabinet (holding the clock and lamp) and the Mickey Mouse shirt the little boy is wearing.

Castor Oil?

It looks like the bottle next to the Pet canned Milk might be Puretest Castor Oil.

It'll never happen

No matter how long they watch it, that pot will never boil.

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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