NPR logo

'Bound for Glory': New Deal America in Color

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1915331/1917212" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
'Bound for Glory': New Deal America in Color

Arts & Life

'Bound for Glory': New Deal America in Color

Book Issues Historic Color Images of Poverty, Rural Life

'Bound for Glory': New Deal America in Color

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1915331/1917212" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Homesteaders Faro and Doris Caudill. Russell Lee/Library of Congress hide caption

toggle caption Russell Lee/Library of Congress

In the last years of the Depression, government photographers roamed the country to capture images of America: at play, at work, and struggling to survive. It was a New Deal project, the Farm Security Administration's — and later the Office of War Information's — attempt to document life in the United States.

The black-and-white images that emerged became emblems of the time. Dorothea Lange's photo of a migrant mother, for one: grimy and tattered, her face creased with work and worry.

What has been less known is that some of the photographers were also trying out a new technology: Kodachrome, the color film that had just come onto the market.

Available Online

Now, some of those forgotten full-color images have been collected in a book, Bound for Glory: America in Color 1939-43. The large-format volume is a collaboration between the Library of Congress and the publisher Harry N. Abrams.

In an introduction to the collection, author Paul Hendrickson writes that he's fallen "head over heels" with the color pictures taken in the years before the nation was plunged into World War II.

NPR's Melissa Block spoke with Hendrickson about the book and the revelation of seeing Depression-era images in color.

We no longer support commenting on NPR.org stories, but you can find us every day on Facebook, Twitter, email, and many other platforms. Learn more or contact us.