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The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Collection Connections > Great Depression to World War II

[Detail] Migrant agricultural worker

FSA/OWI Photographs, 1935-1945 contains over 71,000 photographs that comprise an extensive pictorial record of American social life during the turbulent decade between 1935 and 1945. The scope of this record ranges from the southern to the western United States to Puerto Rico and from rural to urban conditions.

The collection also demonstrates the rise of documentary photography as a medium for investigating and communicating about social issues. The Special Presentation, "Documenting America: Photographers on Assignment", can serve as a point of departure for investigation into the FSA/OWI specifically and into photography and the documentary form in general.

The Great Depression

Photographs in the collection bring home the reality of the hardships of the Great Depression, from the squalor of Hoovervilles and shantytowns to the barren wastes of the Dust Bowl. search Hoovervilles, shantytown, camps, squatters, and dwellings for pictures that record the wide-spread poverty of the Depression. search dust, sand, and erosion for evidence of the cataclysmic environmental changes that destroyed farms and contributed to many people's distress during the Depression.

Study of the Great Depression may be complemented by the use of materials from Voices from the Dust Bowl and American Life Histories, 1936-1940.