SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
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About the Photos

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.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Child of migratory workers

Child of migratory workers

February 1939. "Child of migratory packinghouse workers. Belle Glade, Florida." View full size. 35mm nitrate negative by Marion Post Wolcott for the FSA.

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Filthy child

I have a picture of me and a little boyfriend when I was 3 years old, both of us smiling and covered with mud and dirt. We had so much mud on our faces you could hardly make us out. We weren't migratory children however. Just normal kids having fun in the dirt and mud. I even remember eating dirt as a child. Something about a mineral deficiency.

Belle Glade Babe

This child looks like she's been well cared for. She's been bathed recently and her clothes are rather clean. "Filthy" says in real need of cleaning and the word also has an undertone, as "nasty." Yes, it is unfortunate that child is at someone's work-place for her child-care but in this picture I say she's OK. I remember getting dirty and loving to play in mud. 55 yrs after those early memories I'm still able to get around and get dirty without any ill effects.

my father could have been that child

Dad was born in 1937 to migrant worker parents. He started picking about 5 yrs of age. Belle Glade Florida was one of their yearly picking destinations. When not living in migrant shacks at a farm they lived in the car traveling from state to state and farm to farm living at a subsistence level that we might call homelessness today.

Homeless rootless, "food insecure", uneducated and exploited, often living on flour and water biscuits and stolen cottonseed cake intended for cattle, they couldn't afford to eat the crops they picked. Husband, wife, and 4 kids being "dragged around from pillar to post" as a great-aunt put it. After the Depression there were a lot of folks living like this and they felt lucky to have that while at the same time painfully aware of their exploitation.

The child seems blissfully unaware of the social implications of his/her plight and looks like she/he is enjoying themselves and has at least 4 'toys' to play with. Only a couple of years before he/she will be next to their parents in the field stooping and picking and not going to school- ironically contributing to the family's financial and social advancement.


Sad Picture. . .I have a daughter about this age and for some reason, it hurt me see this. . .don't know why. Makes you wonder if she is still alive today?

Bang Bang

Good observation. Whether it's "real" or not, it's missing the barrel.

The gun.

It looks like half of a toy gun. Metal toys were cast in 2 half pieces and pinned together. I have no idea when they stopped doing that and started going to stamped metal. Then on to the plastic we know and love.

A little of both, maybe?

It looks like it might be a real gun that broke in half. The knife is definitely real.

Such Toys....

Note the toy gun and knife (a toy? or Real?) on the step to the left. IS that a spoon laying atop the toy gun?

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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