“The family met at the most important place, near the truck. The house was dead, and the fields were dead... this was the new hearth, the living center of the family.” Those lines from John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, set during the Great Depression, are a reminder of how the era turned the world upside down in unsettling ways. From living in cars to enduring aching hunger, people everywhere struggled to find food, shelter, and hope.
Steinback captured the Great Depression, which lasted from 1920 to around 1939, in words. Photographers like Dorothea Lange, who worked for the Farm Security Administration, captured it in images. Black-and-white photos from the time (although some have been colorized to great effect) depict the strength and tenacity, but also the bleak existence, of those who lived during the Great Depression. Disquieting and haunting, they depict harsh landscapes, stark camps or shanytowns, and many men, women, and children on the road, unsure of where they were going or if they would survive.