Farm Security Administration Photographs: Harvest Time

On a recent road trip through the countryside, I saw farms decked out in the colors of late autumn and fields dotted with bales of grain. With Thanksgiving being observed this week in the United States, my thoughts turned to celebrations of the harvest season.

As a child, I didn’t understand what was being celebrated, other than an appreciation for the delicious food on the table. After all, I didn’t grow up on a farm and everything I ate could be found – seemingly by magic – at the grocery store.

Day laborers picking cotton near Clarksdale, Miss. Nov. 1939

Day laborers picking cotton near Clarksdale, Miss. Nov. 1939

One way to help young urban and suburban students gain an understanding is to have them closely examine harvest-related photographs from the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Color Photographs collection.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words:  It wasn’t until I looked closely at the photo on the left that I had my first inkling of how it might feel – literally – to work in the fields.

Here are some teaching ideas for your classroom:

Children gathering potatoes on a large farm, vicinity of Caribou, Aroostook County, Me.

Children gathering potatoes on a large farm, vicinity of Caribou, Aroostook County, Me. Oct. 1940

Use these primary source analysis tools and guides from the Library:
For students: Primary Source Analysis Tool
For the teacher:  Analyzing Photographs and Prints Teacher’s Guide

After looking at dozens of Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Color Photographs, I have a deeper appreciation for those who plant and harvest the crops for the rest of us.  How do you think the FSA images might make a difference in your classroom or library?

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.