In May 1941, Farm Security Administration (FSA) photographer Jack Delano captured the May Day Pageant in Siloam, a small town in Greene County, Georgia. Today, I feature two photographs of the day’s events. First, above, is a procession of girls dancing in fancy costumes, looking like a group of flitting butterflies. The second image, below, shows the back of a costumed girl watching a Maypole dance.
- View more than 40 images taken by FSA photographer Jack Delano at the 1941 May Day Pageant in Siloam, Georgia.
- Two years earlier, in May 1939, FSA photographer Marion Post Wolcott captured the May Day-Health Day celebration at Irwinville Farms, Georgia.
- May Day, May 1, is also International Workers’ Day, marked with parades, marches, and demonstrations in many countries. Search on May Day parade in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog to see some events associated with this aspect of May Day.
It’s almost disorienting to see these intimate photos from an earlier time in my own culture: I feel recognition, but also dissociation. A small crowd has been lured to this community gathering without soft-drink banners, carnival rides, fried dough wagons, or canned music. There’s no litter, no obesity; people aren’t milling about or poking their iPhones, they’re focused on the performers.
And since it’s 1941 and some 25 years before segregation laws began to change us, there are also no black folks.