NPR logo The Depression, In Full Color

The Depression, In Full Color

A store with live fish for sale, vicinity of Natchitoches, La. Library of Congress hide caption

toggle caption
Library of Congress

A store with live fish for sale, vicinity of Natchitoches, La.

Library of Congress

When I think of the Depression, I see sharecroppers sitting in tents with their children, and men in hats waiting in food lines — all in black and white.

It turns out the Library of Congress has a cache of color photos taken around the country in the late '30s and early '40s. (Color film was commercially available in the 1930s, though it didn't become widely use until later.)

The photos provide the shock of the familiar; a way to see past the iconography and look at real people — our grandparents, give or take a generation.

Harvesting corn, Pie Town, New Mexico Library of Congress hide caption

toggle caption
Library of Congress

Harvesting corn, Pie Town, New Mexico

Library of Congress

Couples at square dance, McIntosh County, Oklahoma Library of Congress hide caption

toggle caption
Library of Congress

Couples at square dance, McIntosh County, Oklahoma

Library of Congress

In the roundhouse at a Chicago and Northwestern Railroad yard, Chicago, Ill. Library of Congress hide caption

toggle caption
Library of Congress

In the roundhouse at a Chicago and Northwestern Railroad yard, Chicago, Ill.

Library of Congress

Melrose Park (near Chicago), Ill. William London has been a railroad worker 25 years. Library of Congress hide caption

toggle caption
Library of Congress

Melrose Park (near Chicago), Ill. William London has been a railroad worker 25 years.

Library of Congress

Day laborers picking cotton near Clarksdale, Miss. Library of Congress hide caption

toggle caption
Library of Congress

Day laborers picking cotton near Clarksdale, Miss.

Library of Congress

Grand Grocery Co., Lincoln, Neb. Library of Congress hide caption

toggle caption
Library of Congress

Grand Grocery Co., Lincoln, Neb.

Library of Congress

See the full collection from the Library of Congress. Hat tip: Business Insider