September 27, 2008

Delta County Fair, 1940, By Russell Lee

There's something about seeing the typically black & white past in color that I find endlessly interesting. Russell Lee was a photographer during the Depression [soon enough, we may have to say "the last depression"] for the Farm Security Administration. Along with his fellow FSA photographers, including Ben Shahn, Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parks, and Walker Evans, Lee traveled the country to document and publicize the living conditions and plight of rural Americans. And while most of the FSA's 164,000 negatives are black & white, there are also around 600 color images from 1,600 existing slides.

Those include a few shots of the 1940 Delta County Fair [in Colorado], which are in the Library of Congress's Russell Lee flickr collection. This one immediately followed the photo above. Gotta say, that is one worn out-looking fair ride. Also, I think that's Freddie Kruger in the red car. Creepy.

Russell Lee FSA/OWI photos []
Russell Lee photos in the Library of Congress [flickr]


Hahaha, the pants on that woman in the first photo were what caught my eye immediately! Obviously those Western women were liberated!

You should check out They have thousands of similarly compelling historical images. They had a big series of color depression era shots (probably the same collection, but I don't remember for sure). I could look at this stuff all day long.

one of the flickr tags is "women in trousers"

shorpy gets all its images from the LOC site, and is fine if you don't want to dig through the site itself to look for cool photographs, but none of that is original content.

the loc online databases are amazing.

"none of that is original content"

I know most of it comes from the LOC, but they also have a fair number of reader submissions now, and I think a few things from smaller databases. Denver for example has a really good digitized collection of historical photos (, but most of it is just not that interesting to most people, so it's nice to have someone curate it and show the really exceptional stuff.

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