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

Homesteaders Great Depression
Homesteaders Great Depression

Russell 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.

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