What mid-Missouri farmers looked like during the Great Depression (PHOTOS) | KBIA

What mid-Missouri farmers looked like during the Great Depression (PHOTOS)

Sep 5, 2014

The Great Depression saw the U.S. arguably near rock bottom. Some of the economically hardest hit citizens were farmers and their families. Beginning in 1935, photographers hit the dusty back roads of the country. They were charged with documenting the effect of the depression on rural communities.

Interior of house without windows, home of sharecropper, cut-over farmer of Mississippi bottoms. Osage, Mo. (May 1938)
Credit Russell Lee / Library of Congress

A team of Yale University professors and students have put the photos together in an interactive map where users can search by county, year and photographer. They’ve also created a Treemap where users can pore through categories and classifications, such as people, land and religion, to view specific images from anywhere in the country.

Baking bread. Columbia, Mo. (November 1939)
Credit Arthur Rothstein / Library of Congress

Scanning through the images, it’s easy to see how much of Missouri’s agriculture industry has changed with the advancement of technology (and farmer fashion, of course), while other fragments look eerily similar to an era long gone.

Nick Phillips, eighty-one years old with wife in front of house. Ashland, Missouri. Missouri game and arboretum project. Columbia, Mo. (May 1936)
Credit Carl Mydans / Library of Congress

Missouri features images from notable photographers, such as Arthur Rothstein, Carl Mydans and Jack Delano. A part of their mission while documenting these farms was to highlight the necessity of portions of the New Deal that could help these landowners with loans.

Farming of sharecropper, cut-over farmer of Mississippi bottoms. Osage, Mo. (May 1938)
Credit Russell Lee / Library of Congress

This collection of photos, produced by the Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information between 1935 and 1944, has been housed by the Library of Congress. More than 170,000 photographs reside in the collection.