Laneia’s Team Pick: America in Color 1939-1943

YOU GUYS. I was listening to Belle & Sebastian because obvs it’s Feelings Weekend and I thought, “I wonder if there’s a If there isn’t, I would like very much to make that a thing. I would post photos of both catastrophes (and Katastrophe, holler) and waitresses. Possibly even clips from the movie Waitress, which I kinda liked.” So I checked and OF COURSE there’s a Jesus.

But! But! Look what the owner of linked to!

Captured: America in Color from 1939-1943 is a collection of some of the only color photos from the Great Depression. These were originally part of the exhibit Bound for Glory: America in Color from 1939-1943 via the Library of Congress, etc.

I just want to scream into these photos and say I SEE YOU OH MY GOD THERE YOU ARE. YOU LOOK JUST LIKE US, BUT A LITTLE BIT DIRTIER. I LOVE YOU. These people are real people! And I knew that, logically, but seeing them here, in their red floral dresses against that dusty brown road and the souls behind their full-color eyeballs, makes me have brand new feelings. Their skies look bluer than ours.

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Laneia is the Director of Operations and founding member of Autostraddle, and you're the reason she's here.

Laneia has written 922 articles for us.


  1. I’ve been having these weird sensations all weekend and didn’t know what it was but now I know it was Feelings Weekend. Thanks for letting me in on that.

    Also, wonderful photos. Thank you for caring and sharing.

    • Oh, Feelings Weekend? Why yes of course! It is all making sense now. I have had so many feelings and have randomly started crying at several songs, not knowing if I was happy or sad. Thank you Laneia, for clearing it all up. & of course, also what kate said “Thank you for caring and sharing.”

  2. Great link! I came across a similar article a few weeks ago on The Big Picture entitled “Russia in color”. The photos were taken between 1909 and 1912 by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii. Color photography wasn’t around at the time, but he invented a special three filtered camera to capture his images. Every time I look at the photos, I want to cry because normally, this is a world/era pictured in black and white in our minds and it’s so beautiful to see the actual color of the time.

    Some photos look very contemporary and some look as though they belong in Life magazine.

    Here’s the link to the photos:

    Here’s a link explaining the initial process and then the process used to enhance them today:

  3. I came upon those photos of America a few weeks ago. Absolutely amazing to see everything in color, never saw those Russian ones, very interesting.

    Just looking at the gritty life back then makes our recession pale in comparison. It’s as if we have no idea what ‘hard life’ means.

  4. These are magnificent.

    I used a load to shuffle through as desktop background.

    Then I stared at my desktop for a few hours.

    Was a really productive weekend.

    Anyway, I think the line “they look just like us but dirtier” is pertinent. So many old photos you look at, people’s faces look different from ours now, look old, like they were carved out of the land they worked.

    I’m guessing that the farther back you go, the more distinct the facial characteristics, because communities were, in general, more isolated, leading to less reproductive variety. Whereas now we’re rapidly becoming one big facial mush, sacrificing individuality for the greater heterogeneity.

    Anyway, I think what I really wanted to say was that the modernity of the faces in these photos heightens their impact, while also giving you a surreal disquiet, a suspicion they might be atmospherically-shot stills from a period drama.

    Great link, thank you.

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