Fsa Photography During The Great Depression

1230 words - 5 pages

I glance amusedly at the photo placed before me. The bright and smiling faces of my family stare back me, their expressions depicting complete happiness. My mind drifted back to the events of the day that the photo was taken. It was Memorial Day and so, in the spirit of tradition my large extended family had gathered at the grave of my great grandparents. The day was hot and I had begged my mother to let me join my friends at the pool. However, my mother had refused. Inconsolable, I spent most of the day moping about sulkily. The time came for a group picture and so my grandmother arranged us all just so and then turned to me saying, "You'd better smile Emma or you'll look back at this and never forgive yourself." Eager to please and knowing she would never let it go if I didn't, I plastered on a dazzling smile. One might say a picture is worth a thousand words. However, who is to say they are the accurate or right words? During the 1930s, photographers were hired by the FSA to photograph the events of the Great Depression. These photographers used their images, posed or accurate, to sway public opinion concerning the era. Their work displayed an attempt to fulfill the need to document what was taking place and the desire to influence what needed to be done.

The 1920s were a time of leisure and carelessness. The Great War had ended in 1918 and everyone was eager to return to some semblance of normalcy. The end of the war and the horrors and atrocities that it resulted in now faced millions of people. Easily obtainable credit and rapidly rising stock prices prompted many to invest, resulting in big payoffs and newfound wealth for many. However, overproduction and inflated stock prices increased by corrupt industrialists culminated until the inevitable collapse of the stock market in 1929. Millions of dollars were lost in less than 24 hours and few were left untouched by the devastating blow. Unemployment skyrocketed up to its peak of nearly twenty five percent of the population. Added to this was the series of dust storms terrorizing the mid-west. These storms destroyed most crops and left farmers destitute and homeless. This resulted in a mass migration of mid-western farmers moving west to areas such as California to find work. These farmers became to be known derogatorily as "Okies." Newly elected President Roosevelt began immediately to put programs into affect, which would halt the effects of the depression and aid those who were suffering. These programs became known as the New Deal. The purpose of the New Deal was to provide jobs for the unemployed and offer relief to the distressed. Programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) put millions of people to work building roads, dams, and other public works. One of these government programs was called the Farm Security Administration (FSA). The FSA was an agency intended to fight rural poverty during a period when the poor agricultural...

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