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Photographs of the Great Depression: Unveiling Stories

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Social Studies +1 Age Levels Middle School (13 to 15 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old)

This activity analyzes the stories told by photographs of the Resettlement Administration (RA) and Farm Security Administration (FSA) programs, which ran from 1935 to 1937 and 1937 to 1942 respectively. These photographs were taken to document the conditions and hardships experienced by Americans across the country during the Great Depression, as well as the success of relief services implemented by these two programs. Published widely in newspapers, magazines, books, and exhibitions, these photographs helped shape the public's perception and memory of this difficult time period.

Using two Project Zero Global Thinking Routines - "Unveiling Stories" and "The 3 Ys" - students will uncover the stories and perspectives portrayed by these photographs in multiple contexts, from the personal to the global. Additional resources (photographer interviews and an article) and information on how to use these routines in the classroom can by found by clicking Read More ».

RA & FSA photographers included in this collection: Carl Mydans, Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein, and Marion Post Wolcott.

Keywords: poverty, rural, urban, roy stryker, new deal, inquiry strategy, global competence, global competency, 1930s, 30s, dust bowl, photojournalism


Transient cotton choppers on the road

National Museum of American History

"Migrant Mother," by Dorothea Lange

National Museum of American History

Sharecropper's shack in Missouri

National Museum of American History

White man on wagon

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Girl at Gee's Bend, Alabama

National Museum of African American History and Culture

The daily morning gathering at City Hall

National Museum of American History

Unveiling Stories: Project Zero Global Thinking Routine

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access

The 3Ys: Project Zero Global Competency Routine

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access