Upon entering the White House in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt faced an ailing economy in the throes of the Great Depression and rushed to transform the country through recovery programs and legislative reform. By 1934, he began to send professional photographers to the state of West Virginia to document living conditions and the effects of his New Deal programs. The photographs from the Farm Security Administration Project not only introduced “America to Americans,” exposing a continued need for government intervention, but also captured powerful images of life in rural and small town America.
New Deal Photographs of West Virginia, 1934-1943 presents images of the state’s northern and southern coalfields, the subsistence homestead projects of Arthurdale, Eleanor, and Tygart Valley, and various communities from Charleston to Clarksburg and Parkersburg to Elkins. With over one hundred and fifty images by ten FSA photographers, including Walker Evans, Marion Post Wolcott, Arthur Rothstein, and Ben Shahn, this collection is a remarkable proclamation of hardship, hope, endurance, and, above all, community. These photographs provide a glimpse into the everyday lives of West Virginians during the Great Depression and beyond.
About the Authors:
is an award-winning fine art landscape photographer (http://www.bettyrivard.com
). She has researched and coordinated three exhibits of FSA photographs of West Virginia and contributed articles about the FSA Project to Wonderful West Virginia
and West Virginia South
magazines. She is a Social Worker Emeritus with graduate degrees in education and social work from West Virginia University and a BA in political science from the University of California at Berkeley. She traveled to every county in West Virginia during her 25-year career as a social worker and planner with the state.
Jerry Bruce Thomas, Professor Emeritus, Shepherd University, is the author of An Appalachian New Deal: West Virginia in the Great Depression and An Appalachian Reawakening: West Virginia and the Perils of the New Machine Age.
Carl Fleischhauer is a digital preservation specialist at the Library of Congress. He is the coauthor of Documenting America, 1935–1943, a book about the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information photographs. In the 1970s, he worked for the public television station based at West Virginia University and contributed to a Library of Congress documentary project about the Hammons family of Marlinton, West Virginia.