The Farm Security Administration (FSA) was formed in 1935, as a part of the New Deal efforts to lift the U.S. out of the Great Depression. The FSA’s primary mission was to improve the lives of poor farmers and sharecroppers. Though the FSA lived under different guises until 2006, the agency is best known for the photographers it dispatched throughout the country. The iconic Migrant Mother portrait of destitute pea-pickers? It was captured by Dorothea Lange for the FSA.
The photos that follow were taken between 1937 and 1939, when the U.S. fell back into recession after an initial recovery faltered. Taken in rural bars and saloons, the photos reveal what was likely a brief respite from daily life in struggling farms, forests and mines. The captions accompanying each photo are the original descriptions from the Library of Congress.