Gorgeous color photos from the Great Depression show life in one of America's darkest times

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Homesteaders Great DepressionRussell Lee/Library of Congress

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, produced using color transparencies taken by various photographers between 1939 and 1941 and compiled by the Library of Congress, show the period and the people who endured it in vivid color — offering a new way to look at one of America's most studied historical eras.

19 PHOTOS
Colorized photos from the Great Depression (BI)
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Gorgeous color photos from the Great Depression show life in one of America's darkest times

Trucks outside of a starch factory, in 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.

(Photo via the Library of Congress)

Boys fishing in a bayou, in Schriever, Louisiana, in summer 1940. Cajun children in a bayou near a school in Terrebonne, a US Farm Security Administration project.

(Photo via the Library of Congress)

Hauling crates of peaches from the orchard to the shipping shed, Delta County, Colorado, in late 1940.

(Photo via the Library of Congress)

Faro and Doris Caudill, homesteaders, in Pie Town, New Mexico, in late 1940.

(Photo via the Library of Congress)

The Caudill family eating dinner in their dugout, in Pie Town, New Mexico, in late 1940.

(Photo via the Library of Congress)

Harvesting new corn from the field of Jim Norris, in Pie Town, New Mexico, in late 1940.

(Photo via the Library of Congress)

At the Vermont state fair in Rutland, Vermont, in late 1941.

(Photo via the Library of Congress)

Jim Norris, homesteader, Pie Town, New Mexico, in late 1940.

(Photo via the Library of Congress)

Distributing surplus commodities in St. Johns, Arizona, in late 1940.

(Photo via the Library of Congress)

"Backstage" at the "girlie" show at the Vermont state fair in Rutland, Vermont, in late 1941.

(Photo via the Library of Congress)

Tying a ribbon on a calf's tail was one of the feature attractions at the rodeo at the Pie Town, New Mexico, fair in late 1940.

(Photo via the Library of Congress)

Day laborers picking cotton near Clarksdale, Mississippi, in late 1939.

(Photo via the Library of Congress)

Living quarters and a "juke joint" for migratory workers during a slack season, in Belle Glade, Florida, taken in early 1941.

(Photo via the Library of Congress)

Men reading headlines posted on the street corner of the Brockton Enterprise newspaper office, in Brockton, Massachusetts, in late 1940.

(Photo via the Library of Congress)

A horse-and-cart team pulling a car out of the mud on a road near Pie Town, New Mexico, in late 1940.

(Photo via the Library of Congress)

Barker at the grounds at the Vermont state fair in Rutland, Vermont, in late 1941.

(Photo via the Library of Congress)

Delta County Fair in Colorado, in late 1940.

(Photo via the Library of Congress)

(Photo via the Library of Congress)

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SEE ALSO: Amazing colorized photos show a unique side of World War II

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