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Hard Times: 1935

July 1935. "Interior of unemployed man's house. Morgantown, West Virginia." Large-format nitrate negative by Walker Evans for the FSA. View full size. Interesting recent NYT article: "On the Path of Walker Evans."

July 1935. "Interior of unemployed man's house. Morgantown, West Virginia." Large-format nitrate negative by Walker Evans for the FSA. View full size. Interesting recent NYT article: "On the Path of Walker Evans."


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Morgantown Employment

Stanton_Square has been greatly moved by this photograph and has experienced considerable ruminations on how to respond. The typographic servant of Stanton_Square has deep connections to Morgantown, having spent many formative years there. I am very curious as to where this photo was taken. The most likely location is the nearby mining community at Scotts Run where Walker Evans spent several months. Other Morgantown industrial regions of the time include the glass factories along the Monongahela River or the Sabraton neighborhood. Several decades ago I frequented the (still operating) Seneca Glass Factory and a few old houses nearby and felt a similar aura of proud, tidy modesty. The Library of Congress has a handful of Walker Evans panoramas of houses in the region Morgantown but I am at a loss to confidently identify their location.

Ironic to this photo, Morgantown was recently recognized as having the nation's lowest unemployment rate (Dec 2008).

The many rugs reminds me of

The many rugs reminds me of my Granddad's house, where you'd hardly ever see the wood floors. The idea was that every 6 months, all of the rugs would be taken out and beaten. Even into the 1990's when he was in his 90's he did that.

Pictures of home

Is that the old homestead pictured over the mirror? Maybe our guy had to move to the big metropolis of Morgantown when the old place was obliterated by a coal mine.

Bygone craftsmanship

Better construction & better furniture indeed. Compare this to the trash-out foreclosures of today, where dumpsters full of imported crap must be hauled off to the landfill before the owners can start replacing floors, windows, cabinets, and basically everything including the kitchen sink. On the other hand, we've already cut down all the nice trees they made this stuff out of.


This pic is what great photography is all about.


I like the picture above the mirror. Perhaps that is where this unemployed gentleman grew up. Horses and no cars would seem to indicate an earlier date than 1935. Looks like a lovely place.

No Sneaking Around That House

Those floor boards creak with every step.

Modest but nice

They may have been of modest means, but the house looks nice, as evidenced by the trim, and the banister on the staircase (most houses were well-made then), and the furniture appears to be of good quality as well.

Farm Security Administration

This picture is on the FSA website. Many other pictures by Walker Evans. Very interesting site.

Interesting scene, but

What stands out when I look at this image is the application and condition of the wallpaper.

It Just So Happens.......

that CBS's excellent television show "Sunday Morning" had a segment on Walker Evans, his postcard collection, his photography and post card history in general. It was aired this morning.
New slogan for Dave: "Everything's up to date on Shorpy."

No Job, But Not Unappreciated

Great photo. The man who lives in these modest digs has won the attention of some woman. Either that or he's unusually gifted at laundering and starching doilies!


These people may be poor and struggling, but everything is clean and orderly. They may be short on money but not pride.

Meeting of artist and subject

This photo is typical of the dignity that Evans captured in the lives and surroundings of ordinary people. I can also say, as the descendant of unemployed Appalachian people of the 30s, that there was dignity there to be captured.

What is it

The item stuffed behind the mirror? Is is the same thing as what is on the dresser on the right? It looks to me like a kleenex box - but I don't know if they had those back in 1935.

Also I thought the carpet was all one piece, but it looks like multiple carpets "tetris-sized."

[That's a thermometer behind the mirror. - Dave]


One of the more interesting studies we've been treated to yet. Wonderful.

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