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Historian seeks help in identifying boy photographed in Freedom in 1940

Historians in the News
tags: documents, Great Depression, sources, picture



For the past 13 years, Joe Manning, a retired social worker and historian from Northampton, Mass., has viewed photos taken in the Depression years to document American life and now part of a Library of Congress collection to find out what happened to the people profiled and their descendants.

Images grip the heart, sear the psyche.

Stark black-and-white photographs document American life in the Depression years — poor migrant workers; hungry children, heads buried in their mother’s shoulders, huddled in a lean-to tent; a farmer and his two young boys caught in a dust storm in Oklahoma. And an unidentified boy who climbs a snowy hillside in Freedom.

The pictures, part of a vast portfolio of close to 195,000 taken from 1935 to 1944 for the Farm Security Administration to illustrate and combat rural poverty, are now part of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog.

Though compelling, the photographs give but a glimpse of their subjects’ — many anonymous — circumstances.

Joe Manning delves deeper, and wants to know more.

For the past 13 years, the retired social worker and historian from Northampton, Mass., has viewed these pictures — what he calls a “treasure chest of unfinished stories” — and those of photographer Lewis Hine, who documented child labor in the early 1900s, to find out what happened to the people profiled and their descendants.

Read entire article at The Times

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