One of the famous images of the Great Depression is the pea picker's wife, her face dirty and creased with concern, two of her children hiding their faces against her and a third, a baby, in her lap.
That photo was taken by a photographer from the Farm Security Administration, and there are a lot more where it came from. Like, a lot a lot. Almost 175,000 more, to be exact, and they've recently been digitized by the Library of Congress, and tagged with information like who took them, where, and who the people in the photos are, if it's known.
A project at Yale University, Photogrammar, has taken those archives and organized them into an interactive map, viewable by county. I just found this yesterday, and of course that last few hours of my day were given over to poring over the images. I started with Chicago, but I'm excited to see images from everyday life from around the rest of America as well. Here are some of my favorites from the place I call home.
Anything with a well dressed woman prominantly featured obviously caught my attention.
Bidding farewell to someone departing on a Greyhound bus.
A woman in a fur coat kissing her boyfriend, a soldier, goodbye in Union Station.
A WAC waiting for her train in Union Station.
I don't remember who exactly this young woman is, but I believe that she also works at Union Station. Just look at the beautifully set hair.
A young African American woman on the South Side tries on a skirt. Love the strong-shouldered silhouette.
A nurse working in a clinic on Chicago's South Side. Her eyes just have such depth.
The floor show at an African-American cabaret.
A young couple walking down Michigan Avenue. I really want to try to recreate her outfit.
This photo of three women waiting for the Easter Promenade outside of a South Side church is one of my favorite images. THOSE HATS.
There are some fantastically atmospheric shots as well.
Like this one, taken inside Union Station. At its peak during WWII, Union Station saw 300 trains and 100,000 passengers a day.
Two women waiting for a streetcar on a foggy day.
A ship heads down the Chicago River. I know exactly where this was taken, because the building on the far left is still standing.
I really, really encourage all of my fellow vintage enthusiasts to check out this fantastic archive. I love the glimpse that it's given me into the everyday lives of people living in my city so long ago, and I think it's really fantastic that this project focused on people that we don't really have that many surviving images of.