Hard Times then and now

November 27, 2011 8:01 PM
Hard Times Generation: Families living in cars

5 Pages


Downtrodden: Children of migrant fruit worker in Berrien County, Michigan

Homeless: Squatters camping on a highway near Bakersfield, California, in 1935

Destitute: Children sitting on the steps of a dilapidated house in Michigan in June of 1937

Documented: The photographs were taken by the Farm Security Administration that was combating rural poverty

Down-and-out: Mother and father and several children of a family of nine living in open field in rough board covering built on old Ford chassis on U.S. Route 70, between Bruceton and Camden, Tennessee

Jobless: At the height of the Great Depression, as many as 15 million Americans were unemployed

Wayward: Migrant family in Kern County, California, in 1936

Hovels: Houses of African-Americans in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in 1936


A ‘Juke Joint’ and bar in the Belle Glade, vegetable growing section area of south central Florida, where couples and single men could go to relax after a tough day or weeks work

Family of migrant fruit pickers from Tennessee – Winter Haven, Florida. The image was created by the New Deal program of President Roosevelt, in order to demonstrate the hardships of farm workers during the Great Depression

A dwelling for migrant workers in Belle Glade, Florida (1939) The image shows a migrant packinghouse worker shack made of old tin and burlap

Migrant workers relaxing outside labor camp shelters: Belle Glade, Florida (1941) Agricultural workers in front of their metal shelters at Okeechobee migratory labor camp

Family of migrant agricultural workers: Belle Glade, Florida. The majority of the workers who moved to Florida during the Great Depression came from Georgia, South and North Carolina and Arkansas

Family of migrant agricultural workers: Canal Point, Florida (1939) In the foreground is a bean hamper which the family use to sit on and they call a ‘muck rocker.’ Some of them are from Missouri and Arkansas

Children of migrant packinghouse workers, living in a ‘lean-to’ shack made of pieces of rusty galvanized tin and burlap. The children were left alone all day and often until three a.m while both parents went to work

A young migrant couple photographed in 1938 after a hard days work in a packing house, They were from Georgia

Migrant agricultural worker: Canal Point, Florida (1939) The wife of packinghouse worker, migrant from Missouri said at the time of the photograph ‘We have never lived like hogs before but we sure does now, it’s no different from hog livvin.’


Caught in the middle: These children in a rural schoolhouse in Austine County, Texas, pictured in April 1943 have not yet benefited from the industrial age brought on by the Second World War

Education: These children are learning to sing in a choir in Pie Town, New Mexico in October 1940

Hard work: Many children in rural areas still had to work to help support their families. Here, four boys are pictured in 1942 at a Farm Security Administration labor camp in Robston, Texas

Labor force: Schools in remote Aroostook County, Maine, did not open until the potatoes had been harvested because children had to help bring the crop in. These two boys live outside Caribou

Playtime: These children enjoy a primitive carnival ride at the Delta County Fair in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies in October 1940

War drums: Children were enlisted in frequent patriotic demonstrations, like this one in May 1942 in Southington, Connecticut, to rally support for the nation’s fight against the Axis power of the Second World War

Matching: These three sisters are wearing the same dress, no doubt homemade, to the Vermont State Fair in Rutland in September 1941

Bleak: This photo of a little girl clutching her doll, taken between 1941 and 1942, is a powerful image about showing desolation in parts of rural America at the time

Ready for war: A war propaganda poster is seen in this schoolhouse in San Augustine County, Texas. The federal government made sure to rally the war effort in even the most rural areas

At Beecher Street School, Southington, Connecticut, whose student body was half Italian-American and half of Polish-American, patriotism became an important ritual for the school children

Tough work: A homesteader’s weather-worn hands show the sort of life he leads. He feeds his daughter free barbeque from the Pie Town Fair in October 1940

Helping out: A small boy sits among the cabbages at a FSA community center labor camp in Texas

A girl sits alone outside Washington’s Union Station in 1943

Bringing in education: New Deal programs funded schools, like this one in San Augustine County, Texas, which helped turn the tide of poverty in some of the most remote reaches of the country

Important subject: Geography was an important subject, even in rural areas, because hundreds of thousands of American troops were fighting overseas in far-off places

This girl takes care of her baby sister in 1940 on Bayou Bourbeau plantation, a Farm Security Administration cooperative near Natchitoches

Getting by: These children lived in the tenement district in Brockton, Massachusetts. Pictured in December 1940

Few possessions: This little boy and his sister are intent on this crude model airplane while they await their parents’ return at an FSA labor camp for migrant crop pickers

Hard life: Jack Whinery is struggling to get buy as a homesteader in desolate Pie Town, New Mexico, pictured in September 1940


About Jerry Frey

Born 1953. Vietnam Veteran. Graduated Ohio State 1980. Have 5 published books. In the Woods Before Dawn; Grandpa's Gone; Longstreet's Assault; Pioneer of Salvation; Three Quarter Cadillac
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