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Heart Breaking Photos of 1930s-40s

Photos-Frederick-1937As part of the economic recovery forged by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, professional photographers were sent across the United States to record on photo film the life, events, conditions and spirit of Americans during the 1930s. Since the beginning of the Great Depression, the end of 1929, people across the country had a rough time just putting food on the table, jobs were very few.

To record with photos was one way to get some people working but better yet a wonderful opportunity to record events in photos.

Photos-Louisana family -1938

An online program, Photogrammar, established by Yale University, has organized, made digital and made searchable some 170,000 of those photographs taken from 1935 to 1945. There are several methods to search for photos. One is a map of the United States with locations done in shades of green. The darker the green, the more photos from that location – usually marked by the county name. You can zoom in to see more details of the map. You can also use the search box to place a keyword, hometown, time frame or even a surname.

Using the map location, place the mouse cursor over a place, see the name and how many photos, then click on it to have those images come up in thumbnail images. There will photos of ordinary citizens, businesses, stores, homes, farm areas, and recreation.

Even if you don’t locate any place or person that fits with your family history, just exploring these photos from 80 years ago – a time of your grandparents can be exciting.

Photos-Taos Pueblo, New Mexico -1936

Photos: Gasoline station in Frederick, MD in 1937, Grandfather, mother, and children. A family living near Lutcher, Louisiana in 1938, and Taos Pueblo, New Mexico in 1936.

Related genealogy blogs:

Using Family Photos

State Archives

Appalachian States


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