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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

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1 A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
The Great Depression A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

2 Photograph of a Dust Storm During the Great Depression
Dust Storms: In 1934 and 1936 drought and dust storms ravaged the great American plains and added to the New Deal's relief burden. (Rosenberg)

3 Migrant Workers Farms in the mid-western states were destroyed by drought. This land became known as “the dust bowl.” Families were forced to sell their homes for very little. In these desperate times, many families traveled west in hopes of better land or to the city in hopes of factory work. Migrant families moved from place to place, living in tents, and taking any jobs that were available. As John Steinbeck wrote in his 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath: "And then the dispossessed were drawn west- from Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico; from Nevada and Arkansas, families, tribes, dusted out, tractored out. Car-loads, caravans, homeless and hungry; twenty thousand and fifty thousand and a hundred thousand and two hundred thousand. They streamed over the mountains, hungry and restless - restless as ants, scurrying to find work to do - to lift, to push, to pull, to pick, to cut - anything, any burden to bear, for food. The kids are hungry. We got no place to live. Like ants scurrying for work, for food, and most of all for land.“ (Rosenberg)

4 The Dust Bowl (Rosenberg)

5 Farm Foreclosure Sales

6 Searching for a Job

7 The photograph that has become known as "Migrant Mother" is one of a series of photographs that Dorothea Lange made in February or March of 1936 in Nipomo, California. Lange was concluding a month's trip photographing migratory farm labor around the state for what was then the Resettlement Administration. In 1960, Lange gave this account of the experience:  I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean- to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it. (From: Popular Photography, Feb. 1960). (Nelson) “Migrant Mother”

8 A Photograph of Christmas Dinner During The Great Depression

9 The Big Cities (google images)

10 Vying for Jobs                                                                  Unemployed men vying for jobs at the American Legion Employment Bureau in Los Angeles during the Great Depression. (Nelson)

11 The Stock Market Crash The trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange just after the crash of On Black Tuesday, October twenty-ninth, the market collapsed. In a single day, sixteen million shares were traded--a record--and thirty billion dollars vanished into thin air. Westinghouse lost two thirds of its September value. DuPont dropped seventy points. The "Era of Get Rich Quick" was over. Jack Dempsey, America's first millionaire athlete, lost $3 million. Cynical New York hotel clerks asked incoming guests, "You want a room for sleeping or jumping?" (Nelson)

12 (Pearl)

13 Farm Security Administration: Everywhere the unemployed stood in the streets, unable to find jobs and wondering how they could feed their families. (Circa 1935) Depression:Unemployed: Typical picture capturing the number of people who were unemployed and looking for a job. (Circa 1935) The Unemployed (Nelson)

14 Unemployed Union March
Depression: Unemployed: The Unemployed Union: marchers south on Broadway: Camden New Jersey typical scene reflecting large population of unemployed in desperate need of work and looking for jobs. (Circa 1935) (Nelson)

15 Waiting in Breadlines Depression: Breadlines: long line of people waiting to be fed: New York City: in the absence of substantial government relief programs during 1932, free food was distributed with private funds in some urban centers to large numbers of the unemployed. (Circa February 1932) (Rosenberg)

16 Segregation (Nelson)


18 Photographs by Margaret Bourke-White: “White Folks” and “Black Folks”
Most of the images we have of the tragedy of the Depression portray strong, determined, dignified, hopeful Americans -- fighters, survivors, the salt of the earth. The photographs of Margaret Bourke-White are not so cheerful. Reinforced by the text of Eskine Caldwell, her images are often bleak, grim, despairing. "Unlike other documentary photographers, Bourke-White did not approach her subjects with the assumption that they were noble, and though her people were victims of circumstance, she did not celebrate their ways of coping with their plights. Instead, she pitied the cultural forms they took" (Peeler 104). Even images of smiling children have a pitying, patronizing undertone. These are children who only go to school part-time, who will never know better than to want to be just like their daddies. They are the sharecropper's children. They too would become "slaves of sharecropping." ). (Bourke-White)

19 “White Folk” (Bourke-White)


21 (Bourke-White)

22 “Black Folk” (Bourke-White)

23 (Bourke-White)

24 (Bourke-White)

25 (Bourke-White)

26 (Bourke-White)

27 Works Cited Bourke-White, Margaret. Photographing the Representative American. 01 Dec. 2004 < Nelson, Cary. "Modern American Poetry." A Photo Essay on The Great Depression. 01 Dec. 2004 < "Pearl Harbor: 1929 The Great Depression." Scholastic Teachers Scholastic. 01 Dec. 2004 < Rosenberg, Jennifer. “20th Century History: Photographs of the Great Depression." 20th Century History About, Inc. 01 Dec. 2004 <

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