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Amazing Color Photos Of Depression Era Life In The Mississippi River Flood Zone

By / 05.18.11

I don’t remember when exactly, must have been a couple of years ago now, I discovered the Library of Congress’ online photo catalog. It’s filled with thousands and thousands of photographs, most of them taken back during a time where most people didn’t have cameras — so the government would dispatch photographers to go out and document life in America in that era through images. I can’t tell you how many times, since discovering the archive, that I’ve killed hours digging through those photos. I mean, they’re so beautiful and fascinating. Often the most interesting/amusing part of the photos are the captions, which were presumably written by the photographers who took the pics, back during a time where it wasn’t yet taboo to refer to blacks at “negroes” or people of mixed race as “mulattoes.”
So a few nights ago, inspired by the Mississippi River’s flooding of rural Louisiana, I decided to dig around through the archive for photographs taken during the famed Mississippi River floods of 1927. While that search turned up mostly fruitless (most of the photos the Library has aren’t available for download, apparently) I was reminded of the amazing collection of color photos taken during the Depression era that the Library recently placed online, both on their website and on Flickr. And I was reminded of it again by a Daily Mail piece published today.
So I went back and I gathered some of the photos of life in the rural parts of Mississippi and Louisiana in the color photo gallery that resonated with me the most. All of them, incidentally, were taken by Marion Post Wolcott, a photographer who spent a good part of her career working for the Farm Security Administration documenting poverty during the Great Depression. I placed the Library’s captions above the corresponding photos on each page of the gallery. The one for the photo above, which Post took near the town I was born in (Thibodaux), reads “La. Cajun children fishing in a bayou near the school.” Enjoy…
“Negro tenant’s home beside the Mississippi River levee, near Lake Providence, La.”
“Bayou Bourbeau plantation, a Farm Security Administration cooperative, vicinity of Natchitoches, La. Three Negro children sitting on the porch of a house”
“An old tenant house with a mud chimney and cotton growing up to its door, which is occupied by Mulattoes, Melrose, La.”
“A store with live fish for sale, vicinity of Natchitoches, La.”
“Bayou Bourbeau plantation, a FSA cooperative, Natchitoches, La. A Negro family (?) seated on the porch of a house”
“A cross roads store, bar, “juke joint,” and gas station in the cotton plantation area, Melrose, La.”
“Clothes of swimmers hanging on a telegraph pole, Lake Providence, La. The children from the nearby farms and neighborhoods go swimming, on Saturday afternoon and Sunday, in the lake”
“Negroes fishing in creek near cotton plantations outside Belzoni, Miss.”
“Day-laborers picking cotton near Clarksdale, Miss.”
“Backyard of Negro tenant’s home, Marcella Plantation, Mileston, Miss. Delta”
“Boys fishing in a bayou, Schriever, La.”
“Negro tenant’s home beside the Mississippi River levee, near Lake Providence, La.”

TAGSlibrary of congress galleriesthe depression

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