In 1935, President Roosevelt initiated the Resettlement Administration to aide in rebuilding the United States following the Great Depression. This act set out to revitalize the nation’s agricultural system by offering low-interest loans to the struggling farmers who were most harshly affected by the economic decline. The director of this administration was Columbia University economist, Rexford Tugwell. Yes, that is an actual name of a real person, and it is awesome. I’m naming my next child Rexford, regardless of gender, because Rexford means business, Rexford gets the job done. This particular Rexford was faced with the problem of public scrutiny over the plans of the RA, and he solved that issue by hiring someone else to deal with it, which is my personal favorite way of taking care of business.
Roy Stryker, former student of Rexford Tugwell, was put in charge of the RA’s Historic Section of the Information Division. It was decided that the best way to gain public support for the government programs was to show them images of the impoverished class as well as the progress being made from the implemented programs. From there, the greatest federally sponsored photography project was born.
The Library of Congress maintained and catalogue the collection of 170,000 photographs dating from 1935 to 1946, and Yale University has brought the archive to the 21st century by creating Photogrammar. The website allows users to search by location with optional filters for timeframes and photographers. It offers a new look into one of America’s most notable turning points, and is a particularly neat way to get a glimpse into specific parts of the country during those times.