The US entered the Great Depression, one of history’s great financial calamities, in the late 1920s, and the country spent most of the 1930s mired in a debilitating economic malaise.
It ultimately took the outbreak of World War II to help the US wrench itself out of the protracted slump.
Photos of America during the Great Depression, much like the mood of the country, are often bleak, available only in black and white.
The photos below, taken by various photographers in 1939 and 1940 and compiled by the Library of Congress, show the period and the people who endured it in vivid colour — offering a new way to look at one of America’s most studied historical eras.
Trucks outside of a starch factory, Caribou, Aroostook County, Maine, in late 1940. There were almost 50 trucks in the line. Some had been waiting for 24 hours for the potatoes to be graded and weighed.
Boys fishing in a bayou, Schriever, Louisiana, in summer 1940. Cajun children in a bayou near the school in Terrebonne, a Farm Security Administration project.
Hauling crates of peaches from the orchard to the shipping shed, Delta County, Colorado, in late 1940.
Tying a ribbon on a calf's tail was one of the feature attractions at the Pie Town, New Mexico Fair rodeo in late 1940.
Living quarters and a 'juke joint' for migratory workers during a slack season, Belle Glade, Florida, taken in early 1941.
Men reading headlines posted on the street corner of the Brockton Enterprise newspaper office, Brockton, Massachusetts, in late 1940.
A horse-and-cart team pulling a car out of the mud on a road near Pie Town, New Mexico, in late 1940.
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