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The Tragic Story Behind The Photo Of Four Children Who Had To Be Sold To Escape Poverty In The 1940s

Updated 18 Oct 2018 580.6k views10 items

America in the 1940s was a tumultuous place to live. World War II raged through the first half of the decade, finally ending in 1945 and leaving its mark on the country for decades. During the war, food and supplies were rationed, and, though the end of the war marked an economic boom in America, not everyone felt its effects. Recovery, in some instances, took years, and the Cold War turned international relations frosty when the Soviet Union asserted itself.

A photo of children for sale, taken in August of 1948, perfectly encapsulates the experience of those still down on their luck years after the war. The idea of any mother selling her children, let alone selling them with a sign posted in her front yard, feels preposterous by today's standards. But this 1948 image of children for sale is no joke, and the kids pictured did, in fact, find themselves sold off to strangers at the behest of their own parents. 

Sadder still, the children for sale in the Chicago area went on to experience further hardship in their new homes. This 1948 image is truly one of those examples of film capturing an incredibly low moment that history won't let us forget. 

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