Welcome to a brand new year! Worried about inflation? The time to worry about inflation is if it were to turn into hyperinflation such as seen in Weimar Germany following World War I. The opposite of inflation is deflation as we can see in the photo “The Coffee Shop“; U. S. c.1934 during the Great Depression. Lunch for 25 cents! But few people had the 25 cents. You don’t want to see that now do you? Then there was 25% unemployment. Today, everyone is hiring but many jobs have no applicants. Inflation? We can handle it!
A look at the struggle of Egyptian cotton workers during the Great Depression. The sack of cotton weighed 120 lbs. Workers were paid the equivalent of 10 cents/day. In today’s economy it does not sound like a living wage, but during the Great Depression salaries in the U.S. were only a few dollars/day. In that sense it was probably just a living wage for these cotton workers.
Clearly symbolic of the Great Depression. These two women are most likely mother and daughter as they share an uncommon genetic trait, cleft chins. What are they searching for? An uncertain road lies ahead.
“Far and Away“; U. S. c.1934
The Great Depression creates images of the “Dust Bowl”, migration, soup lines and many more especially those of images taken by the Farm Security Administration’s photographers in our minds. But how many of us think of the Jackrabbit Drives in Kansas where a population explosion of jackrabbits created havoc for farmers? See: https//www.kshs.org/kansapedia/jackrabbit-drives/12097.
“The Jackrabbit Drive“; Oakley, Kansas (1934)
Who knows? The Shadow knows. I believe that the shadows in this photo make it happen. Something to keep in mind when you’re shooting. Try to make effective use of the lighting. Without these shadows would this photo still be as effective? “The High Chair“; U. S. c.1937.
You think we have it rough now? Let’s take a look back for a moment. A World War, the Spanish flu which killed 675,000 people in our country that was only 40% of today’s population, discrimination, poll taxes, literacy tests, Jim Crow, the second coming of the Ku Klux Klan and the Great Depression. That’s about as rough as it gets, and it is clear from these photos “Birmingham, Alabama (1932)“. Research indicates that this was Aunt Harriet’s house. The destruction of the fireplace is evident by the pile of bricks seen in the first and third photos. Perhaps they were to be re-used elsewhere, so this scene in the second photo predates the first and third photos. Anyone want to trade places?
This photo would be typical of those taken from the Farm Security Administration’s collection in the Library of Congress in our opinion. But it does not come from their collection. She belongs to DPI. Moreover, I would argue that this style is similar to that of Russell Lee, one of the great FSA photographers from the 1930s. For us to add this image to our collection was a no-brainer.
“Amish Woman With A Washtub“; Pennsylvania (May 15, 1937).
In the midst of the Great Depression this woman prizes her two dogs. She seems economically untouched by the despair in the land. I think that many of us have seen some people take better care of their pets than their children. Lucky dogs!
Things could be worse as it was for this Texas farm family during the Great Depression. We feel extremely fortunate to be able to bring this photo to you as we pay homage to the work of the great Farm Security Administration photographers of the period such as Dorothea Lange. For us at DPI this was a no brainer.
For me the connection was instantaneous. I guess it was the brick wall. Jacob Riis documented the plight of the poor and their living conditions in New York City at the turn of the 20th century. Required reading is his work How the Other Half Lives (1890). A good number of his photographs contain brick walls. We hope that he would approve of this presentation, “The Empty Box“; West Virginia c.1931.