Saturday, November 19, 2011

America in Color from 1939-1943


Denver Post -- "These 70 images by photographers of the Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information, are some of the only color photographs taken of the effects of the Depression on America’s rural and small town populations. The photographs are the property of the Library of Congress and were included in a 2006 exhibit Bound for Glory: America in Color."

HT: Mike Carlson 

Update: One interesting observation about the photos, sent by email: "Not one fat person."  

23 Comments:

At 11/19/2011 9:19 AM, Blogger Aiken_Bob said...

Maybe I don't see what others see but the "effects of the depression"?. I see a business that is advertising its goods. I see a family eating together what looks like a good meal.

 
At 11/19/2011 10:05 AM, Blogger Henry H said...

Fascinating photographs. I loved all of them.

 
At 11/19/2011 10:10 AM, Blogger AIG said...

Amazing. What's more amazing is that those images seem to show a better standard of living, commerce and industry back then than most places in the world have today.

I'm amazed by the number of cars you can see in a small town in Montana. You couldn't see that in continental Europe at that time.

 
At 11/19/2011 10:13 AM, Blogger Bill said...

If I recall correctly, US GDP was growing pretty fast from '39-'43. I don't think the country was in recession, let alone a depression during those years. I'd be more interested in photos from '30-'33.

 
At 11/19/2011 11:33 AM, Blogger AIG said...

What in the heck were people doing in Pie Town New Mexico in 1940? Even today the place looks like a relic.

 
At 11/19/2011 12:08 PM, Blogger Ed R said...

Nice preview of what the country may look like again in 10 - 15 years.

 
At 11/19/2011 2:03 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

These photos are brilliant.

To piggy-back on what AIG said...

The standard of living in the great "super power", the USSR, was not even close to the standard of living in Depression Era America by the time I left in the 1970's. For many Russians today and for many other people around the world, their standard of living is still not there yet!

 
At 11/19/2011 2:56 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

No fat people, and the women look terrible.

Better diets and health care are great.

Forgotten today is that a large fraction of US men were 4F in WWII due to malnutrition and its effects.

 
At 11/19/2011 3:27 PM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

Benji states:

"Forgotten today is that a large fraction of US men were 4F in WWII due to malnutrition and its effects."

Documentation please.

The pictures were great. Interesting how handwritten news stories were posted in the window of the newspaper.

 
At 11/19/2011 5:38 PM, Blogger AIG said...

"and the women look terrible. "

Make-up, hair-care products and camera lighting. Thats all

"Forgotten today is that a large fraction of US men were 4F in WWII due to malnutrition and its effects."

In 1940 the average height of the US population was actually just about identical to what it is today.

 
At 11/19/2011 7:16 PM, Blogger Craig said...

I was born in 1953 and my entire impression of that time is in black and white. To see these color photos is incredible. It makes the people seem real to me in a way I can scarcely describe. They are beautiful photographs.

Now, I'm no Keynesian and would rail against such a government project today, but it is interesting that FDR, old socialist that he was, still believed people should work for their government hand-outs. And part of the result are these pictures.

 
At 11/20/2011 4:18 AM, Blogger Michael E. Marotta said...

I wonder how we will look to people in 2081.

I, too, was impressed with the wealth and prosperity. Also, I noted the prices of commodities as benchmarks for the dollar:

Most interesting, of course, was the existence of the color process in those years.

 
At 11/20/2011 6:53 AM, Blogger Curt said...

My grandfather was a small business man in Connecticut and managed two keep houses, multiple properties, drive new cars, send his kids to private school, and save a considerable amount of money during the depression.

We take photos of exceptions not rules.

 
At 11/20/2011 10:58 AM, Blogger Don Harrison said...

"Not one fat person . . . " If you want to understand why, I'd suggest a book called "Wheat Belly."

 
At 11/20/2011 3:11 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Buddy--

During World War II the 40 percent 4F rate of young men drafted into the army owing to problems associated with malnutrition was a stark testimony to the ravages of the Great Depression, but it was also an alarm that set in motion decades of nutrition programs (beginning in 1946 with school lunch) that arose out of national security concerns but contributed to the eventual appreciation of basic nutrition as a fundamental human right.

http://www.uscatholic.org/blog/2009/11/generation-4f

 
At 11/20/2011 3:45 PM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

Benji, you are attributing malnutrion to any physical impairment that might contribute to 4-F.

From the Nebraska Studies Org. 1925-1949; The 4-F Classification.

" The 4-F classification was given primarily for muscular and bone malformations, hearing or circulatory ailments, mental deficiency or disease, hernias, and syphilis."

So, hearing, mental deficiencies, hernias and syphilis are usually not a result of malnutrtion, but maybe bad teeth sugar or bones lack of vitamin D.

I agree with your source that basic nutrition (not starving) is a fundamental human right but it overreached in ref to 4-F.

 
At 11/20/2011 6:22 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Bill: "If I recall correctly, US GDP was growing pretty fast from '39-'43. I don't think the country was in recession, let alone a depression during those years. I'd be more interested in photos from '30-'33."

Yes, GDP was growing, due to massive government war spending. Unemployment was almost nonexistent. Meanwhile, there was rationing and shortages of many consumer goods.

GDP growth doesn't necessarily mean good times.

 
At 11/20/2011 6:35 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Bunny: "...but contributed to the eventual appreciation of basic nutrition as a fundamental human right."

Rights are negative. Basic human rights are those things you have when you are alone on an island. Is basic nutrition one of those things?

 
At 11/20/2011 8:01 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Buddy-

I was quoting from a study. The study stays 40 percent of men were 4F due to malnutrition, not me. This figure is not controversial.

Like I say, if you know USA 10 guys in the 50s, ask them if they are taller than their fathers. My bet is seven will say they are taller.

 
At 11/20/2011 8:41 PM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

Benji, you were not quoting from the study. The study was about obesity of today's youth. You can see the study here from the Army Times. The part about WWII 4-F was not mentioned in the study and is opinionated conjecture.

Is not height variance in generations the basis of multiple regression statistical analysis? I am a little shorter than my dad and his grandson is taller than I.

 
At 11/21/2011 9:26 AM, Blogger Hydra said...

Is not height variance in generations the basis of multiple regression statistical analysis? I am a little shorter than my dad and his grandson is taller than I.

====================

Lotsa issues at play here. In general people are taller today. I own a 200+ year old farm cottage that has (had) barely over five feet of head room. I had to lower the floor to make it liveable today.


People in general are taller, but that does not change the fact that family members of one generation or another are taller or shorter.

 
At 11/21/2011 10:29 AM, Blogger Hydra said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 11/21/2011 10:32 AM, Blogger Hydra said...

Not toO hard to spot what would be various code or regulatory violations today - or how and why the codes came to be.

 

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