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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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Washings & Iornings: 1939

Washings & Iornings: 1939

August 1939. "Home and family of oil field roustabout in Oklahoma City. During periods of unemployment the woman takes in washing and ironing." Photo by Russell Lee for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.

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Summer ice

Even though I’m only 60, I remember from when I was a little kid in the early sixties that we still had an icebox to refrigerate the food at our summer cottage. My dad would drive to a shack marked ICE on the highway where an old guy (probably way younger than I am now) would bring out a big block of ice with massive tongs and put it in a metal tray in the trunk of the car. It always amazed me, and still does, that the ice block had been cut out of the frozen lake months before.

Some fun

I was born in 1932 and I remember the ice man coming around with a horse drawn wagon full of ice, and we kids would grab a broken off shard of ice while the iceman was making his delivery. A small treat, but appreciated on a hot day.

One luxury

They at least have an icebox! There is an ice “order” at the top right by the door for 25 lbs next delivery. The driver could see from the truck if you wanted ice and how much by the way your sign was hung. This saved a lot of time (and ice) for the delivery guys, especially in hot, dry weather.

Better off than some

The sign on the wall requests 25 lbs of ice.

A Glimmer of Hope

Out of all of this series of photos taken around this place and time, this one is by far the least depressing. I would like to think these ladies (and kids) went on to have decent lives.

I tried asking my Mother

what it was like during the depression and she would never answer, and until she died she still collected buttons off old clothes, and saved every scrap of food.

Clean and Pressed

What better advertisement for laundry service than two women and children neat and clean as can be, the girls wearing nicely made dresses probably made from feed sacks, one with even a bit of lace trim. Those women had courage. My grandmother used to scrub the blue ink out of sugar sacks for pillowcases, embroidered and trimmed with fine crochet. Making do never looked so good.

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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