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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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Golden (State) Boys: 1938

Golden (State) Boys: 1938

November 1938. "Children of [Dust Bowl] refugee families now on Works Progress Administration. They live in tents on the flats outside of Bakersfield, California." Photo by Dorothea Lange for the Resettlement Administration. View full size.

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Back then it was not difficult to overpower the sun with a flashbulb, so probably likely there was some fill flash on this shot. That, or it is a masterful print or scan of the original neg.

[Any "fill flash" effect is courtesy of Photoshop. - Dave]

Great pic

I love the effect of the backlighting in this photo. I've never heard the term "refugee" used with folks affected by the Dust Bowl. It makes me wonder if the term is used out of ignorance or as a political statement. Neither scenario would be flattering to the author.

[Any ignorance here might be ours. A refugee is a person seeking refuge. The term was widely used during the Depression when referring to the victims of Dust Bowl-era drought and flooding. - Dave]


The well-respected camera woman achieves a technical masterwork with this extreme backlit shot. Or has Shorpy come to the rescue and opened up the shadows and let us see the Depression-be-damned happiness of the three boys?

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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