News from the Reference Desk Category: History

Color Images of America in the Great Depression

In response to the economic turmoil of the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt called for the creation of several assistance agencies. One of these was the Resettlement Administration (RA) created in 1935.  The Farm Security Administration (FSA) was created out of the RA in 1937. This agency was formed to help struggling farmers and sharecroppers.  It’s historical section was headed by Roy Stryker.  He organized a team of photographers who documented hardships across the country, especially in the Midwest and California.  Many of the black and white images they created such as Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” are well known.  Not so familiar are the color photographs that were taken of farmers, workers, and children.  In a new book called New Deal Photography, USA 1935-1943 author Peter Walther has created a survey of the work done by the photographers of the FSA.  These images vividly show the hard life of many ordinary people during a time of great struggle in America.  A few of the images can be seen here.  Walther’s book is can be found here at MPPL.

Women’s Work in World War I

Women have always participated in support work during wartime.  This was especially evident during World War I.  Women served in a variety of capacities sometimes very close to the front lines.  The National Archives holds a vast collection of photographs in its collection of War Department records. You can see several photographs of women at work during World War I in the Unwritten Record Blog prepared by staff at the National Archives.

Women's Land Army WWI

Roads of Yesterday

Summertime in most areas of the United States heralds road construction season. But what was it like for automobile drivers 100 years ago? This video prepared by the Ford Motor Company shows how the Model T was built and what it was like to drive in those early days of the automobile age. Most roads were not paved and snow plowing was nonexistent. Mount Prospect entered the automobile age in full force when William Busse bought his first Buick automobile and eventually became a Buick dealer. Here is a c1920 photograph from the Mount Prospect Historical Society showing William and his son, Fred, with the family’s first automobile. Most of Mount Prospect’s roads were unpaved until the mid-1920s.

Home Movie Day

Older photographs and home movies are rich treasures of family history. Have you been wanting to look at and preserve your older home movies? The Center for Home Movies has designated October as the month to do just that. Over 100 museums and film societies across the world are hosting special events where people can bring their films, view them with others, and get professional guidance about how to best preserve them.

Britannica Library

britannica libraryThe Library now subscribes to the excellent and authoritative Encyclopedia Britannica’s online presence, Britannica Library. Explore thousands of topics in science, social studies, language arts, and mathematics for school projects, review concepts taught in the classroom, or learn something new. Very impressive are the more than 90,000 images, videos, and audio clips. There are 3 levels – children’s, teen, and adult – with great information for everyone. It would be easy to spend an afternoon or evening exploring here.