Pensive and poignant photos of Great Depression families waiting for aid

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34 PHOTOS
Waiting for relief rations during the Great Depression
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Waiting for relief rations during the Great Depression
(Photo via Library of Congress)
(Photo via Library of Congress)
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When the Dust Bowl of the 1930s caused widespread farm failures and sent thousands of agricultural laborers traveling west in search of work, the federal government stepped in with the formation of the Resettlement Administration and, later on, the Farm Security Administration.

The agencies' primary goals involved the creation of sustainable farms and employment. They aimed to achieve rural rehabilitation by resettling farmers in more fertile areas and providing them the education to farm efficiently and stretch their money.

Frequently, however, immediate circumstances were so dire that direct emergency supplies of food, supplies or money were necessary.

Here, the photographs of Dorothea Lange, Ben Shahn and Russell Lee capture the acute anxiety and stasis of destitute agricultural laborers as they wait in line for the emergency grants that will keep their families fed for another few days.

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