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Relive the 1940s Through These Old Color Photographs

The Library of Congress has more than 1600 color photos of WWII-era America

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“Operating a hand drill at Vultee-Nashville, woman is working on a “Vengeance” dive bomber, Tennessee” February 1943 Photo: Alfred T. Palmer / Library of Congress

Starting in 1935, photographers working with the Farm Security Administration and the Office of War Information scoured the United States, hoping to capture the realities of American life. The photographers took 175,000 black-and-white images, many of them iconic photographs of American history.

“Student pilots, Meacham Field, Fort Worth, Tex.” January 1942. Photo: Arthur Rothstein / Library of Congress

Nestled within this larger collection, however, is a smaller but in some ways more dramatic set of color images, which photographers started snapping in 1939. According to the Library of Congress, these original-color images “focus on rural areas and farm labor, as well as aspects of World War II mobilization, including factories, railroads, aviation training, and women working.”

“Shepherd with his horse and dog on Gravelly Range, Madison County, Montana” August 1942. Photo: Russell Lee / Library of Congress

The Library has posted some of the images to Flickr, which is a bit easier to navigate than their own site. They’re asking users to comment and add details if they happen to know anything about the people or scenes captured in the photographs.

“Chopping cotton on rented land near White Plains, Greene County, Ga.” June 1941. Photo: Jack Delano / Library of Congress

(Hat tip to Douglas Main)

 

More from Smithsonian.com:
Color Photographs of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake
The History of Color Photography
Celebrities of the Past, Now in “Vibrant Color” at the Portrait Gallery

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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