The REAL Grapes of Wrath: Incredible color photographs show life in rural America

These incredible color photographs reveal what it was like to live in rural America amid the struggles of the Great Depression and World War II. 

Around 1,600 of the vivid images were released by The Library of Congress, which depict what it was like on rural farmlands in America, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, from nearly 80 years ago. 

They were taken by the U.S. government’s Farm Security Administration (FSA) and later the Office of War Information (OWI) to show life between 1939 and 1944.

The snapshots captured an era more typically seen in black and white and showed the transformation from times that seemed to inspire John Steinbeck’s classic novel Grapes of Wrath to the US readying itself for war.  

Two boys pictured as they fished in a creek near to their school in Schriever, Louisiana, in 1940. The boys were described as 'Cajun children' of Terrebonne Parish

Two boys pictured as they fished in a creek near to their school in Schriever, Louisiana, in 1940. The boys were described as 'Cajun children' of Terrebonne Parish

Two boys pictured as they fished in a creek near to their school in Schriever, Louisiana, in 1940. The boys were described as ‘Cajun children’ of Terrebonne Parish

One young couple round dance in McIntosh County, Oklahoma, while others gather around to talk in either 1939 or 1940

One young couple round dance in McIntosh County, Oklahoma, while others gather around to talk in either 1939 or 1940

One young couple round dance in McIntosh County, Oklahoma, while others gather around to talk in either 1939 or 1940

Taken in in Corpus Christi, Texas, in August 1942. The image was captioned: 'With a woman's determination, Lorena Craig takes over a man-size job. Before she came to work at the Naval air base she was a department store girl. Now she is a cowler under civil service'

Taken in in Corpus Christi, Texas, in August 1942. The image was captioned: 'With a woman's determination, Lorena Craig takes over a man-size job. Before she came to work at the Naval air base she was a department store girl. Now she is a cowler under civil service'

Taken in in Corpus Christi, Texas, in August 1942. The image was captioned: ‘With a woman’s determination, Lorena Craig takes over a man-size job. Before she came to work at the Naval air base she was a department store girl. Now she is a cowler under civil service’

In Meacham field in Fort Worth Texas, an instructor explains the operation of a parachute to up to six student pilots in January 1942

In Meacham field in Fort Worth Texas, an instructor explains the operation of a parachute to up to six student pilots in January 1942

In Meacham field in Fort Worth Texas, an instructor explains the operation of a parachute to up to six student pilots in January 1942

The child of a migratory farm laborer was pictured in the field during the harvest of the community center's cabbage crop, in  United States Farm Security Administration (FSA) labor camp, in Texas. It's believed to have been taken in January 1942

The child of a migratory farm laborer was pictured in the field during the harvest of the community center's cabbage crop, in  United States Farm Security Administration (FSA) labor camp, in Texas. It's believed to have been taken in January 1942

The child of a migratory farm laborer was pictured in the field during the harvest of the community center’s cabbage crop, in  United States Farm Security Administration (FSA) labor camp, in Texas. It’s believed to have been taken in January 1942

A family sit on the porch of their house in the Bayou Bourbeau plantation, a FSA cooperative, in the city of Natchitoches, in Louisiana

A family sit on the porch of their house in the Bayou Bourbeau plantation, a FSA cooperative, in the city of Natchitoches, in Louisiana

A family sit on the porch of their house in the Bayou Bourbeau plantation, a FSA cooperative, in the city of Natchitoches, in Louisiana

The images depict a difficult era for farmers who were struggling to make a living at the end of the Great Depression. 

Prior to the recession rural areas were also struck by the ‘Dust Bowl’ period, where a series of severe dust storms ravaged the land and affected agricultural industries.  

Droughts from that particular time led many Americans to head west in the hope of jobs, land and new beginnings.

The series has been compared to Steinbeck’s 1932 novel ‘The Grapes of Wrath,’ which told the fictional tale of the Joads, who were a poor family of tenant farmers in Oklahoma. 

In the popular book, characters faced hardship due to the droughts, changes to the farming industry and bank foreclosures which left many out of work.

It concluded with the Joads family traveling to California along with thousands of others from the state, nicknamed ‘Okies,’ all hoping for a better life. 

The novel received a Pulitzer prize for fiction and also the National Book Award in 1939. When Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962 the book was heavily mentioned.   

One woman performs a handstand 'backstage' at the 'girlie' show at the Vermont state fair in Rutland, in September 1941

One woman performs a handstand 'backstage' at the 'girlie' show at the Vermont state fair in Rutland, in September 1941

 One woman performs a handstand ‘backstage’ at the ‘girlie’ show at the Vermont state fair in Rutland, in September 1941

Several women appeared to cut cake and prepare food as they ready themselves to serve a barbecue dinner at a fair in Pie Town, New Mexico in October 1940

Several women appeared to cut cake and prepare food as they ready themselves to serve a barbecue dinner at a fair in Pie Town, New Mexico in October 1940

Several women appeared to cut cake and prepare food as they ready themselves to serve a barbecue dinner at a fair in Pie Town, New Mexico in October 1940

Men and women work to chop down the cotton on rented land, near to White Plains in Greene County, Georgia, in June 1941

Men and women work to chop down the cotton on rented land, near to White Plains in Greene County, Georgia, in June 1941

Men and women work to chop down the cotton on rented land, near to White Plains in Greene County, Georgia, in June 1941

Dr. Schreiber (left) can be seen giving a young girl a typhoid inoculation at a rural school, San Augustine County, Texas, in  April 1943

Dr. Schreiber (left) can be seen giving a young girl a typhoid inoculation at a rural school, San Augustine County, Texas, in  April 1943

Dr. Schreiber (left) can be seen giving a young girl a typhoid inoculation at a rural school, San Augustine County, Texas, in  April 1943

At the Vermont state fair in Rutland one person can be seen talking to a worker who appears to be selling tickets to a 'live monsters' show. The entertainment appears to include 'Teddy the Wrestling Bear.' Taken in September 1941

At the Vermont state fair in Rutland one person can be seen talking to a worker who appears to be selling tickets to a 'live monsters' show. The entertainment appears to include 'Teddy the Wrestling Bear.' Taken in September 1941

At the Vermont state fair in Rutland one person can be seen talking to a worker who appears to be selling tickets to a ‘live monsters’ show. The entertainment appears to include ‘Teddy the Wrestling Bear.’ Taken in September 1941

The Faro Caudill family can all be seen eating dinner in their dugout, in Pie Town, New Mexico. Here they are pictured in October 1940

The Faro Caudill family can all be seen eating dinner in their dugout, in Pie Town, New Mexico. Here they are pictured in October 1940

The Faro Caudill family can all be seen eating dinner in their dugout, in Pie Town, New Mexico. Here they are pictured in October 1940

Alongside the impressive collection of photographs from old America, there is also a small selection that shows the change in industry for the US during its war years.

The industries began to change during mobilization efforts. These differences included factories, railroads, aviation training and women working. 

All of the images originated as color transparencies that ranged in size from 35 millimeter – slightly smaller than two postage stamps – and those that were 4×5 inches.

They were all digitized by The Library of Congress and posted online.

The institution has invited people to leave comments to help them further identify the scenes, incidents and even the potential locations and dates. 

Three  women drill bulkhead screws into a transport plane wing at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation plant, Fort Worth, Texas in October 1942

Three  women drill bulkhead screws into a transport plane wing at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation plant, Fort Worth, Texas in October 1942

Three  women drill bulkhead screws into a transport plane wing at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation plant, Fort Worth, Texas in October 1942

An instructor and two students study a map, in Meacham Field, in Fort Worth, Texas in January 1942

An instructor and two students study a map, in Meacham Field, in Fort Worth, Texas in January 1942

An instructor and two students study a map, in Meacham Field, in Fort Worth, Texas in January 1942

Steel and concrete go into place rapidly as a new steel mill takes form at the Columbia Steel Company, in Geneva, Utah. The new plant was described as making 'important additions to the vast amount of steel needed for the war effort' in November 1942

Steel and concrete go into place rapidly as a new steel mill takes form at the Columbia Steel Company, in Geneva, Utah. The new plant was described as making 'important additions to the vast amount of steel needed for the war effort' in November 1942

Steel and concrete go into place rapidly as a new steel mill takes form at the Columbia Steel Company, in Geneva, Utah. The new plant was described as making ‘important additions to the vast amount of steel needed for the war effort’ in November 1942

Pictured: 'Shepherd with his horse and dog.' Taken on Gravelly Range in Madison County, Montana in August 1942. An older looking gentleman looks out into the distance as his canine companion appears to wait for orders

Pictured: 'Shepherd with his horse and dog.' Taken on Gravelly Range in Madison County, Montana in August 1942. An older looking gentleman looks out into the distance as his canine companion appears to wait for orders

Pictured: ‘Shepherd with his horse and dog.’ Taken on Gravelly Range in Madison County, Montana in August 1942. An older looking gentleman looks out into the distance as his canine companion appears to wait for orders

Located on this dusty track in Melrose, Louisiana, is a cross roads store, a bar, a gas station and a 'juke joint' - an establishment for music, dancing, gambling and drinking often run at the time by African Americans. Pictured in June 1940

Located on this dusty track in Melrose, Louisiana, is a cross roads store, a bar, a gas station and a 'juke joint' - an establishment for music, dancing, gambling and drinking often run at the time by African Americans. Pictured in June 1940

Located on this dusty track in Melrose, Louisiana, is a cross roads store, a bar, a gas station and a ‘juke joint’ – an establishment for music, dancing, gambling and drinking often run at the time by African Americans. Pictured in June 1940

Several men and a few women can be seen at an area where surplus commodities were being distributed. The image was taken in St. Johns, Arizona in October 1940

Several men and a few women can be seen at an area where surplus commodities were being distributed. The image was taken in St. Johns, Arizona in October 1940

Several men and a few women can be seen at an area where surplus commodities were being distributed. The image was taken in St. Johns, Arizona in October 1940

Faro and Doris Caudill, in Pie Town, New Mexico in October 1940. They are claimed to be homesteaders, meaning they are fully self-sufficient and live off their land without outside assistance

Faro and Doris Caudill, in Pie Town, New Mexico in October 1940. They are claimed to be homesteaders, meaning they are fully self-sufficient and live off their land without outside assistance

Faro and Doris Caudill, in Pie Town, New Mexico in October 1940. They are claimed to be homesteaders, meaning they are fully self-sufficient and live off their land without outside assistance 

Two workers are pictured at the roundhouse of the C & NW RR Proviso Yard in Chicago, Illinois, in December 1942

Two workers are pictured at the roundhouse of the C & NW RR Proviso Yard in Chicago, Illinois, in December 1942

Two workers are pictured at the roundhouse of the C & NW RR Proviso Yard in Chicago, Illinois, in December 1942

Four boys can be seen sitting on truck parked at the FSA labor camp in Robstown, Texas in January of 1942

Four boys can be seen sitting on truck parked at the FSA labor camp in Robstown, Texas in January of 1942

Four boys can be seen sitting on truck parked at the FSA labor camp in Robstown, Texas in January of 1942

A huddle of children gather in Rutland at Vermont state fair in September 1941. Four of the girls appear to be in matching red dresses with patterns on them. In the background several rides can be seen along with a ticket booth

A huddle of children gather in Rutland at Vermont state fair in September 1941. Four of the girls appear to be in matching red dresses with patterns on them. In the background several rides can be seen along with a ticket booth

A huddle of children gather in Rutland at Vermont state fair in September 1941. Four of the girls appear to be in matching red dresses with patterns on them. In the background several rides can be seen along with a ticket booth

Two girls frown while a third beams at the camera 'backstage' at the 'girlie' show in Rutland at the Vermont state fair, in September 1941

Two girls frown while a third beams at the camera 'backstage' at the 'girlie' show in Rutland at the Vermont state fair, in September 1941

Two girls frown while a third beams at the camera ‘backstage’ at the ‘girlie’ show in Rutland at the Vermont state fair, in September 1941

One woman could be seen packing oranges at a co-op orange packing plant in Redlands, California, in March 1943

One woman could be seen packing oranges at a co-op orange packing plant in Redlands, California, in March 1943

One woman could be seen packing oranges at a co-op orange packing plant in Redlands, California, in March 1943

One man can be seen walking into the Grand Grocery Company Farmers Seed Store, in Lincoln, Nebraska, . (LOC) [1942]

One man can be seen walking into the Grand Grocery Company Farmers Seed Store, in Lincoln, Nebraska, . (LOC) [1942]

One man can be seen walking into Grand Grocery Company Farmers Seed Store, in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1942. The store also appears to sell oranges for one cent each and grapefruits for five cents 

A meeting of men and women of varying ages, features one person pointing at a map of hanging on the wall. The photograph was believed to have been taken in Georgia, around1940

A meeting of men and women of varying ages, features one person pointing at a map of hanging on the wall. The photograph was believed to have been taken in Georgia, around1940

A meeting of men and women of varying ages, features one person pointing at a map of hanging on the wall. The photograph was believed to have been taken in Georgia, around1940

Children can be seen playing on a metal fairground ride at the Delta County Fair, in Colorado in October 1940

Children can be seen playing on a metal fairground ride at the Delta County Fair, in Colorado in October 1940

Children can be seen playing on a metal fairground ride at the Delta County Fair, in Colorado in October 1940

An impressive two-story home in Houston Texas, in May 1943. in the background baskets of what appears to be produce can be seen at a nearby stand along with an advertisement that could read 'Pepsi-Cola'

An impressive two-story home in Houston Texas, in May 1943. in the background baskets of what appears to be produce can be seen at a nearby stand along with an advertisement that could read 'Pepsi-Cola'

An impressive two-story home in Houston Texas, in May 1943. in the background baskets of what appears to be produce can be seen at a nearby stand along with an advertisement that could read ‘Pepsi-Cola’

In an FSA camp in Robstown, Texas, one boy wearing double-denim can be seen building a model airplane as the girl next to him watches in January 1942

In an FSA camp in Robstown, Texas, one boy wearing double-denim can be seen building a model airplane as the girl next to him watches in January 1942

In an FSA camp in Robstown, Texas, one boy wearing double-denim can be seen building a model airplane as the girl next to him watches in January 1942

A woman stands beside a large red truck with several men in the back. It was believed to have been taken in Mississippi around 1940

A woman stands beside a large red truck with several men in the back. It was believed to have been taken in Mississippi around 1940

A woman stands beside a large red truck with several men in the back. It was believed to have been taken in Mississippi around 1940

Farmers and townspeople gather at the center of a town on Court Day in Campton, Kentucky in September 1940

Farmers and townspeople gather at the center of a town on Court Day in Campton, Kentucky in September 1940

Farmers and townspeople gather at the center of a town on Court Day in Campton, Kentucky in September 1940

A row of establishments on one of the main streets in Cascade in Idaho in July 1941. There appears to be at least two bars, 'Dee's Cafe' and a pharmacy

A row of establishments on one of the main streets in Cascade in Idaho in July 1941. There appears to be at least two bars, 'Dee's Cafe' and a pharmacy

A row of establishments on one of the main streets in Cascade in Idaho in July 1941. There appears to be at least two bars, ‘Dee’s Cafe’ and a pharmacy

Several children sit on the steps of a home in the tenement district in Brockton, Massachusetts in December 1940

Several children sit on the steps of a home in the tenement district in Brockton, Massachusetts in December 1940

Several children sit on the steps of a home in the tenement district in Brockton, Massachusetts in December 1940

Woman from a Japanese-American camp after a war emergency evacuation between the years of 1942 and 1943. The were seen posing outside a Barber Shop in Tule Lake Relocation Center in Newell, California

Woman from a Japanese-American camp after a war emergency evacuation between the years of 1942 and 1943. The were seen posing outside a Barber Shop in Tule Lake Relocation Center in Newell, California

Woman from a Japanese-American camp after a war emergency evacuation between the years of 1942 and 1943. The were seen posing outside a Barber Shop in Tule Lake Relocation Center in Newell, California

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