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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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Texas Turkeys: 1939

Texas Turkeys: 1939

November 1939. "Selected turkeys on the racks awaiting shipment. Cooperative poultry house in Brownwood, Texas." Medium format negative by Russell Lee for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.

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Another Depression dead turkey yarn

In the 1930s my grandfather was a county agent and professor of agriculture at Mississippi State. A lot of his job involved keeping the hard-pressed local farms solvent through very bad times.

His research efforts convinced him that local farmers could make a bit of cash on the side by raising a few turkeys and shipping them north for the holidays (holidays for the Yankees, not the turkeys).

A bunch of farmers quickly formed a sort of cooperative and started raising the birds, and toward the end of the year they hired a whole boxcar and sent them off to Chicago. The boxcar was shunted off to a siding somewhere along the way, the turkeys all froze to death, and they were then discarded. Utter disaster.

The next year a new platoon of turkeys was ready and the co-op placed a potbellied stove and a determined farmer in the boxcar to supervise things. At last, the scheme was successful.

Just wondering

Did they cover their heads before killing 'em or after?

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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