I first learned about the Great Depression from my great-grandmother, who had lived during the time. She always referred to it as “Hoover Days” but noted that her family was a bit better off because the operated a small neighborhood store. It wasn’t that they were wealthier than their neighbors, but because they had access to food and shared with those who needed it most, they felt especially blessed. It reminded me of the sense of pride, even in adversity, that was portrayed on the television series The Waltons. People were dirt poor but seemed much happier than they do today. Being an inquisitive kid, I began to read everything I could on the subject.

I vividly remember seeing Dorothea Lange’s iconic Migrant Mother in a grade school textbook and knowing what hard times these people were having. There was something about Florence Owens Thompson’s empty stare in the photograph. It lead me to a lifelong fascination with the Great Depression, as well as an interest in photography that goes on unabated.

It’s accepted by most historians that the “Depression” began in the South about ten years earlier than it did in the rest of the country. The invasion of the Boll weevil by 1919 along with the rapid fall of cotton prices cast our region into an economic apocalypse. And with the national depression a reality by 1929, Georgia Governor Eugene Talmadge wasn’t particularly keen on federal programs or the meddling interventions that came with them. He famously opposed Franklin Delano Roosevelt, even considering a run against the popular Democrat for President. With the infusion of money which accompanied the “New Deal”, though, Georgians themselves quickly embraced its philosophies and improvements, leaving Talmadge vulnerable.

Today, evidence of the New Deal’s so-called “Alphabet Agencies” abounds in Georgia. There are WPA Post Offices, FEA jails, FSA Resettlement Communities, museums, CCC trails and parklands, among many other tangible remnants of the era. The historical archive of photographs left behind by Roy Stryker’s Information Agency provide a visual snapshot of life in Georgia during the Great Depression and will be utilized here in good numbers. Whatever the politics of the day presumed, it can be said with good standing that the programs brought to Georgia by the New Deal permanently changed the landscape. Besides the introduction of electricity to the rural South, the Depression also forever changed agricultural practices. Dependence on a one-crop system was  halted, therefore ensuring Georgia’s continued agricultural dominance today.

My hope with this site is to be able to share the historical images alongside photographs I’ve made of some of the remnant landmarks of the era, as well as to encourage people who have memories of the Great Depression in Georgia to share them with others. I welcome family stories and photographs contemporary to the period.

–Brian Brown, 8 March 2012

8 responses to “About

  1. Beth Moye'

    Please, come to Porterdale, GA. We have so much that you could photograph.

    Beth Moye’

    • Beth–I will try to get up there sometime. Sounds fascinating. I used to hang out in Covington when I was in college. Had friends from there. Love the area. Thanks for your invitation!

  2. Joan

    Years ago I found a site with a picture of 4 Brinson sisters (white), Fronie, Rosa, Annie and Grace. Have not been able to find it again. I printed the pictures out, but lost them moving. There were other pics on the same site and would love to connect with the owner to see how if we are related, Rosa was my grandmother. They were from South Georgia, Thomas county area.

  3. Brian,

    Thank you so much for the wonderful history that you share through all of your sites. I’ve relocated out of Georgia, but I miss my home state terribly. The history you present not only helps me learn more about where my family came from, but it gives me reminders of home. Your sites also have a huge significance for genealogists. I’m editor of The In-Depth Genealogist. I’d love to include your sites and bio in an upcoming article or guest post. Email me if you are interested!


    • Stephanie, I’m humbled and honored by your kind words. I don’t know what I’d do if I had to leave Georgia. I know, like you, I’d miss it terribly…Feel free to email me at your convenience and I’ll help you do the item for In-Depth Geneaologist!

  4. Wow You are a great photographer. Thanks for documenting Ga. with your inspiring pictures.

  5. Cheryl Sebastian

    Brian Brown, you are my hero. South Georgia Tobacco Patch recounts my childhood. I read it through and through with tears in my eyes and memories flooding my heart. Thank the author of that piece and you so much. I can pass it on to my son and grandchildren, referring to it as GG’s Roots.
    The last paragraph sums up a farmer to a “T”. May I post that to my FB friends?

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