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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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We Ate the Chickens: 1939

We Ate the Chickens: 1939

June 1939. "Works Progress Administration worker and his wife sitting in front of their shack home on the Arkansas River near Webbers Falls, Oklahoma. This man said that last year he thought maybe he would be a little better off when he got the WPA work and had a small amount of cash coming in but that he was worse off now. 'Last year I had a cow and some chickens and I had to sell my cow and eat my chickens. I get worse off every year'." Photo by Russell Lee. View full size.

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Same Great Depression story here

My mother born 1921. Would say times were so hard that supper was bread with mustard. She quit school in 5th grade when her mother died. But she could read speak and write Russian. It always amazed me when her sisters came to visit and they spoke Russian.

The Depression.

My dad, born 1922, used to tell us kids about the poor family that lived in a palmetto shack near a lake in Louisiana during this time frame. Sometimes all they had to eat was some molasses on bread. My sister and I never really believed that kind of poverty existed. This photo proves it.

Sunday Best

I love that even though they don't have much, they both put on their nicest clothes, including for her, a cute dress, stockings, and white dress shoes, to get their picture taken. They may not be the richest people in the world, but that's no reason not to look your best for company. My grandmother always told me that. She said that I could be living in a cave in the woods -- if someone is coming to see you, brush your hair and put on your church clothes. Poor doesn't have to mean dirty or unkempt.

I hope their years progressively got better after this.

Where are they now?

I wish there was a way to find out what ever happened to the people who are "down on their luck" that are in all of these Shorpy pics. I would love to find out what the future held for these poor folks that helped build America.

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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